ON THURSDAY, more than 60 aspiring young authors were encouraged to "'write on" at a conference held at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The second annual meeting of the Young Writers' Institute gave pupils in grades three to five an opportunity to develop ideas, refine their skills and learn from experienced writers.
The event was organized by Gifted and Talented Resource teachers from five elementary schools: Mellie Lewis from Atholton; Jackie Benner from Pointers Run; Noel Richman from Swansfield; Kim Eubanks from Dasher Green, and Betsy Adelman, from Northfield.
"The purpose of the institute is to provide aspiring young writers with a forum to discuss their work with other young writers and to meet and learn from practicing professionals," Lewis said. "What I hope they got from this experience is a renewed interest in writing and some new techniques for writing."
The conference began with a keynote address by Marcia Talley, a short story and mystery writer who lives in Edgewater. Pupils participated in a variety of workshops led by presenters who use writing in their professional lives, including members of The Sun's staff. Parents attended workshops on resources at the public library, how to use the National Archives for research and using newspapers to keep pupils interested in writing.
"The students actually got to work with practicing professionals - real writers in the real world. It was the coolest thing," Benner said.
Atholton fifth-grader Jessica Alder wrote in her evaluation: "I had the time of my life and I wish to participate again and again. From the start of this conference, all I wanted to do was become a writer, now even more!"
The institute is a yearlong venture in which young writers from participating schools are exposed to many different genres of writing. "After the conference, the students are really motivated, and they work on creating an extended piece of writing," Richman said.
Each school produces an anthology of the pupils' work. The anthology is published as a hardback book that is distributed to the pupils toward the end of the school year. "It's a nice product. When I gave them to my students at the end of last year, it was like Christmas," Richman said.
West Columbia pupils who participated in the conference from Atholton Elementary School were Jessica Alder, Mandy Asiedu, Andrew Byun, Liam Casey, Osama Eshera, Genna Gold, Emily Ostrum, Kathryn Powell, Katie Sutherland and Jack Western.
Pointers Run Elementary School participants were Eric Benner, Scott Block, Brittany Cohen, Alana Cornell, Carylynne Hudson, Sarah Jezior, Daniel Li, Richard Li, Janice Lin, Jessica Lu, Shana Mansbach, Rory McShane, Tina Meng, Austin Nam, Meghan O'Donnell, Belinda Shao, Julie Thompson, Allison Vanyur and Rebecca Weisenhoff.
Participants from Swansfield Elementary School were Anthony Basile, Sarah Boone, Isabel Enerson, Leanne Gradijan, Quinton Lopez, Cara McComas, Karen Powdrill, Julian Rucker and Graham Spicer.
SPRING, Senior Peer Resources, Individuals, Networks and Groups, has launched a group called "Relatively Speaking" for senior citizens and their adult children. The group meets from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays at Florence Bain Senior Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way.
"Roles change for the parent who has been the matriarch or patriarch," said Sheila Lyons, facilitator for the group. "They may be alone or more dependent than they were."
Lyons said adult children of senior citizens must learn to handle issues effectively. "The adult child feels sandwiched in between responsibilities. They have a responsibility to their families, their jobs and now their parent needs them. Everyone's being pulled in seven different directions. With all the different things that are pulling at us, it brings out anger and guilt. That leads to a lack of communication, misunderstandings and alienation from each other."
The group is open to senior citizens and adult children of senior citizens and will meet weekly through April 17.
"It's an opportunity for people to come together and realize they are not going through these issues alone," Lyons said. "These are common problems people face. By sharing with other people, hopefully they can come to a reconciliation."
Women's night out
The Town Center Community Association will present "Women's Night Out!" - a series of three programs addressing women's health and self-care - beginning Friday at Historic Oakland.
For the first session, Courtney Carpenter, of David's Natural Market, will lead a discussion on vitamins and natural foods. On March 8, a panel of health professionals from Contemporary Health for Women of Clarksville will discuss a variety of topics, including nutrition, stress management, cosmetic surgery, Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
On March 15, Allegra Bennett will discuss and sign her book, When a Woman Takes an Axe to a Wall. Stella Fanzone will discuss Ohashiatsu massage. Serena King, from Supreme Sports Club, will lead a discussion of strength and fitness training, and Leslie Coombs, of Avalon Studio, will teach the cha-cha and swing line dancing.
All programs begin at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $7.50 a session or $15 for all three nights.
Information or tickets: 410-730-4744.
Atholton High School Music Boosters will hold an art auction at Kahler Hall on Saturday. The auction will be conducted by Avatar Galleries from King of Prussia, Pa.
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for previewing, and the auction will begin at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5, and refreshments will be served. Proceeds will be used to support the music programs at Atholton High School.