by Cori Hilsgen
Aspiring young authors and artists got a chance to learn some new skills about writing and illustrating from professional speakers at the 13th annual Young Authors Young Artists conference held May 17-19 on the campus of the College of St. Benedict.
More than 1,400 students, along with teachers and chaperones from area schools including St. Joseph and Sartell, participated in the three-day event geared for upper elementary students, which focused on promoting student competence in written communication. Students were encouraged to have fun and be creative when writing.
Kennedy Community School teacher Mary Radunz said she chaperoned 20 fourth-graders May 19.
She said the sessions students attended were geared toward upper-elementary writers and illustrators.
This is the fourth year Radunz has chaperoned students for the event. She said she brings back many wonderful ideas for teaching students about writing and illustrating their work in the classroom.
Radunz said students from the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University volunteer for the event and help hundreds of elementary students find their way around campus.
Students from Sartell schools (middle school, Oak Ridge, Pine Meadow, St. Francis Xavier) also attended the event May 17.
Sartell family and consumer science/academic extensions coordinator Lori Dornburg said more than 40 students and three adults from the Sartell-St. Stephen School District attended the conference.
This included fifth- and sixth-graders from Sartell Middle School, and fourth-graders from Oak Ridge Elementary and Pine Meadow Elementary.
St. Francis Xavier fifth-grade teacher Lora Smith said fourth- and fifth-graders from St. Francis Xavier also attended the event.
Dornburg said keynote speaker Bob Kann’s keynote address was titled “How Dincerella Slopped her Dripper.” Kann is a storyteller, juggler, magician and inspirational speaker from Illinois.
Students were able to choose three workshops to attend during the day. A book fair was also displayed for students to browse and purchase books.
Several Oak Ridge Elementary students commented about their experience.
“The beginning keynote was energetic, exciting and interesting,” Bennett Prose said. “Travel to Your Story was my favorite breakout session. It was the class where we got to write whatever type of story we wanted.”
“The classes were very informative,” Elliott Dingman said. “The projects really made you think and will benefit future authors and artists.”
“I liked I could express my creativity,” Sophie Wieland said. “There were no limits to my thinking and what I could do.”
Several fourth-graders from Pine Meadow commented about their experience at the conference.
“I really liked the funny keynote speaker,” Ava Swenson said. “I liked how you get to write and share your own stories. I learned how to draw a dragon too.”
“I liked how you got to write your own stories,” Chloe Rogers said. “We learned about how to start stories in an interesting way. We learned how to tell tall tales.”
“I liked how you got to share stories,” Colton Moore said. “You can meet new people who also like to write. The presenters did a really good job.”
The cost of the event for the Sartell-St. Stephen School District students was covered by grant funds from the Sartell-St. Stephen Education Foundation.
This year’s theme for the three-day conference was “Around the World with Words.” Each day began with a keynote address by Kann. Students then attended three sessions throughout the day and were able to listen to professional writers and artists on various topics such as animation, writing for a newspaper, postcards, cartoons, poetry, travel adventure, talking rocks, writing a book, writing about nature, magical creatures and more.
More than 20 people were scheduled to give presentations, and 54 schools were scheduled to attend the event.
The event was sponsored and coordinated by Resource Training & Solutions and co-sponsored by the Education Department of CSB/SJU.