Last year, my first group of freshmen at DSA wrote memoirs at the beginning of the school year, like all freshmen across DPS. However, when offered the opportunity to publish their life stories in a self-published book, these students took on a challenge. Using a publishing on demand company in Raleigh, the class of 2013 has published its own paperback book, Going on 15: Memoirs of Freshman, stocked with almost fifty memoirs written by these students.
Now that the book is published, after almost a year of after-school editing and finessing by a small group of talented and very dedicated writers, students at DSA are clamoring to read the writing of their peers. I see the book in the hallways, passed between friends, read in between classes. Allowing public access to the memoirs of these students has created a sense of appreciation in our school for students who we may only see in the cafeteria or the hallways. Also, the published students have gained a sense of importance, a pride in their writing and their work: they are published authors! I applaud and congratulate the writers for their talent and their courage. Though some students have published under pseudonyms, all of the writers are now receiving recognition. Students see that their own writing can affect readers in a real way. Our library has three copies of the book and all three were checked out on the first day they hit the shelves. This book is bringing classmates closer together, parents closer to children, and teachers closer to students. Our principal, David Hawks, has offered copies of our students’ stories to our superintendent, Dr. Beacoats, as well as other leaders in DPS. In addition, a parent of one of the writers offered to help promote the book in the community and now, thanks to a former DSA parent’s support there, it is available for all of Durham to buy at The Regulator Bookshop on Ninth Street. That’s what a call a partnership between a school and community! DSA’s students, parents, and principal have taken this book of memoirs from a little idea for a project to a professional publication that has now reached beyond our school’s walls. Anyone interested in supporting our student authors and the efforts our club to publish another collection of writing can purchase a copy of Going on 15: Memoirs of Freshmen at The Regulator Bookshop, or online here.