Conference inspires student writers

The future of fiction and fairy tales is in good hands after more than 200 students from Red Deer Public School District and Chinook’s Edge School Division gathered at École Oriole Park School Saturday for the 21st annual Young Writers’ Conference.

The future of fiction and fairy tales is in good hands after more than 200 students from Red Deer Public School District and Chinook’s Edge School Division gathered at École Oriole Park School Saturday for the 21st annual Young Writers’ Conference.

The budding authors and illustrators learned how to write stories, create cartoons and songs. They heard about making pop-up books, handmade journals and writing for radio and television.

“We hope when they leave today they will take away some ideas about how to improve their writing,” said Purnima Lindsay, vice-principal at Oriole Park and one of the organizers of the event.

Throughout the morning and afternoon students were able to go to three sessions, spending 80 minutes with each presenter.

Lindsay said the students had a chance to meet new friends and learn about the writing process.

Many of the presenters have returned year after year. Lacombe-based illustrator and author Georgia Graham has attended the conference since it started. On Saturday, she was teaching students to create a self portrait on grey paper, using a white pencil to bring out the highlights.

Graham illustrated her first novel at the age of 23 and now more than 20 years later she is starting her 14th book.

Her newest book Wanda’s Freckles will be released in August, with another titled Nana’s Getting Married set to come out in 2010.

Graham visits 60 schools a year and presents at conferences all over Central and Southern Alberta, but she said the Young Writers’ Conference in Red Deer is the nearest and dearest to her.

Often when she goes to schools she talks about the books she has written, but this year’s conference gave her the opportunity to teach art to the students. “I really enjoy this day every year,” Graham said.

It was the first time Grade 4 student Eric Schultz got to attend. In his spare time he enjoys reading, with Dragon Rider being his favourite book. However, at this conference he was most excited about learning how to draw cartoons. He often writes stories and creates illustrations for them.

His mother Carol Schultz said the conference was a great opportunity for her son to become a better writer and further inspire his imagination.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com