Camp teaches students to tell a tale

HOSCHTON - Anna and Katie Wooten have a shelf full of books they have published - and the twin sisters are still in elementary school.

For the fourth year, the girls participated in the annual Mill Creek Student Writing Institute. On Thursday, the penultimate day of the weeklong workshop, the rising fifth-graders scripted their stories into hardback books.

"I like writing my ideas down and making a story about it," said Anna, who wrote a story about Santa Claus and the summer.

Students from the Mill Creek cluster's elementary and middle schools are invited to participate in the Writing Institute, director Melanie Mount said. In six years, participation has grown from 30 students to 185.

"Our hope is we instill a love for writing and a love for reading," said Mount, a literacy coach and reading specialist at Duncan Creek Elementary School. "You have to be able to read and write well to do anything well."

During the workshop, held at Duncan Creek Elementary School, students learn about the writing process - brainstorming, drafting, editing, revising - and select a topic to write about. The program is self-funded, and the $120 fee covers the cost of teachers' salaries and materials.

Taylor Hobbs, who is going into fifth grade at Patrick Elementary, said she is interested in the Revolutionary War, so she created a story about a person who is asked to deliver a secret message during the time of the war. When the man gets poisoned, he must find someone else who can deliver the message while avoiding the British.

Taylor said her parents made her attend the institute, but when she heard she would get the opportunity to make a story, she was OK with the idea.

"I like it because I can design my own book and write my own characters and make it be about whatever I want it to be," she said.

Other children chose to draw from their own experiences when crafting their stories.

Trent Jones, a rising first-grader at Harmony Elementary School, wrote a story based on the death of his dog, Mandy.

"It's very sad, and I remember when she died," he said.

The workshop participants will share their completed books today with their families at a celebration at the school.