SMA Prep celebrates 8th grade writers who have become published authors in this year's We Are America National collection of teen essays.
Working with her 8th grade students, SMA-MAJ Pelletier encouraged 17 courageous young writers to craft their own personal stories about what being an American means to them and share them with the world. These efforts resulted in a published book of teen essays sponsored by the We Are America Project.
The newly published authors include: Shaelyn Walters, Martha Cheno-Jauregui, Katherine Armstrong, Ceylon Evanston, Scarlett Chavez, Conner Manrodt, Ari Greene, Giselle Martinez, Abeni Timms, Gianna Ripo, Gavin Gidman, Serena Shantry, Charlotte Buckley, Hannah Brown, Ayla Edwards, Caleigh Patterson, and Jonathan Van Beuren.
In the foreword on the book, Pelletier writes, "What does it mean to be American? Throughout this year my eighth-grade students and I have examined this question. We have concluded that there is no decisive answer. What it means to be American differs from person to person or group to group. What we have concluded is the understanding that being American is unique and is encapsulated by one’s experiences, background, ethnicity, age, perspective, homeland, and daily life. What makes us who we are? What do we value? What responsibilities do we have?"
The personal impact the project had on these young authors is something that goes beyond the classroom and will encourage them to take risks, persevere through challenges and to continue to develop a strong and confident voice through writing.
The We Are America Project allowed me to realize what all I have and appreciate it more. -Hannah Brown
I feel that with this project we were allowed to express ourselves freely. We had to look into our past. From other people's stories, we might have learned things such as acceptance, and not judge people by their race or weight. -Abeni Timms
The project impacted me because it was akin to therapy. Writing it helped me sort out my emotions and move forward while letting me remember my grandmother. -Caleigh Patterson
"The We Are America Project is working with teachers and young people across the country to define what it means to be American - and to spark a new national conversation about American identity today led by the next generation."