By Nadine Buckley
Within the walls of Shenango High School, you have your athletes who live for sports, your scholars who strive for the grade, and then your students who are simply content with reading a good book. Youngstown State University holds an annual English Festival for any student willing to participate. A list of books are given around mid-September, and it is the student’s duty to read as many as they can by the Festival’s date in April. The books this year ranged from the dramatic to the historical and included titles such as Deadline, The Impossible Knife of Memory, Shadows of Sherwood, X: a Novel, and The Family Romanov.
Not only does the Festival expose students to the best young adult literature available, but they learn from many esteemed guest authors who appeared at the Festival as speakers to hold lectures. This year’s visiting authors were Chris Crutcher, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Kekla Magoon. There were also many different writing games and competitions like impromptu writing where students are given an essay and an hour to finish it, a journalism workshop where students got to interview one of the guest authors, poetry workshops, and trivia contests to see who knew the most about the books they read. Additionally, several contests students could enter before the actual day of the festival were options, including a music contest in which young composers could enter a piece of music they had written based on a scene from a book, an art contest where those good with a pencil or a brush could design a unique book cover, a graphic essay contest where they must create a small comic based on a prompt, and the Candace Gay Memorial, Essay Contest, the most prestigious of the festival. Shenango’s own Nadine Buckley placed third in this contest.
In addition to Nadine’s award, junior high students Elaina Ferrell, Ethan Krouse, and Riley Bruce also received prizes for outstanding work at the Festival.
“Countless of our students have benefitted from the YSU Festival,” noted librarian Mrs. Scott. “It gives students a chance to meet authors, read literature new to them, express themselves in individual and group competitions, and enjoy reading. I think being at the festival amid like-minded people who enjoy reading and learning and sharing books, it feels like a celebration of learning.”