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Pine-Richland Middle School poets' works get published

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 4:27 p.m.

A handful of Pine-Richland Middle School students can call themselves published poets after their works were put into a textbook companion book produced by the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project.

Eighth-graders Ben Cohen, Mahak Sethi, Brendan Lowe, Meredith Muschweck and Sarah Metzmaier had their poems published in the book, titled “The Poetic Classroom: A Collection of Lessons, Reflections and Poetry from Teachers and Students in Western Pennsylvania,” said communications director Rachel Hathhorn.

A book launch was held on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Posaver Hall on the University of Pittsburgh campus. The book, published by Autumn Hill Press, is a companion book that developed out of the University of Pittsburgh's Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, Hathhorn said.

Prucey said it's not a standard “submit your poem, we'll publish it, and you'll buy the book” publication.

“The neat thing about this, and exciting thing for the kids, is this is an actual book, not a money-making scheme,” he said. “I think this is a more authentic publishing opportunity for the kids. Getting into books takes very rigorous editing.”

Each section of “The Poetic Classroom” is based on a poetry lesson a teacher taught and includes a narrative by the teacher on the lesson, followed by the students' poems.

The students were part of Jason Prucey's seventh-grade English class last year. Their poems came from a lesson on legacy poems, he said.

Legacy poems challenge students to “symbolize abstract concepts using concrete details.”

The poems that Prucey included reflected a variety of learning styles.

“Some students were strong writers throughout the course of the year, and their writing continued to be strong,” he said. “And there were strong students who were disengaged with previous assignments but flourished with this one, so I tried to include both kinds of students in this activity.”

Prucey, who was a 2011 fellow of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, embraces the mantra “teachers who write are the best teachers of writing.” So writing a portion of the book was a great learning experience for him as well.

“As a teacher, you're constantly thinking about planning instruction and thinking about things that went well,” Prucey said. “Writing a section of this book gave me the opportunity to sit down and formally consider some of those issues and present some of the things that happened in the classroom.”

The Western Pennsylvania Writing Project is a program that “engages teachers in their own writing and professional growth and increases opportunities for young people to develop their writing,” Hathhorn said.

“The Poetic Classroom” is available for purchase at www.autumnhouse.org or www.amazon.com.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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