During its Feb. 14 regular meeting, the Spring ISD Board of Trustees recognized participants and winners of the district’s second annual Rising Writers’ Student Expo, held Jan. 18 and featuring the work of Pre-K through 12th grade students in Spring ISD.
“We are going to highlight several of our students as part of our second annual Rising Writers’ Student Expo, an incredible event where we got to really display and showcase our students’ writing abilities,” Chief of Academics Dr. Kregg Cuellar told the trustees during his introductory remarks.
This year’s submissions came from across the student body, representing Bilingual, Emergent Bilingual, CTE, Gifted and Talented, Special Education and general education students. Each campus also selected ambassadors to meet and greet community members in attendance at the expo event and to talk to attendees about the importance of writing in their lives.
Each campus submitted exemplary writing pieces for consideration and commendation, with up to three medal recipients named from each campus in the districtwide contest. In all, more than 400 student submissions were evaluated by the contest judges.
Three student winners were invited to read selections from their pieces during the board meeting, and the board members also heard from two published student authors who spoke about their work and what writing has meant to them.
Springwoods Village Middle School eighth grader Troy Caines Jr. read from an essay he wrote on the importance of role models; Wells Middle School seventh grader Ethan Vu shared a passage from his short story submission; and Dekaney High School sophomore Ximena Alejandra Cepeda Alvarado shared a bilingual excerpt from her essay about her relationship with her grandmother.
Carl Wunsche Sr. High School sophomore Sarah Salinas read a selection from her book “Here’s to the Day I Die.” After last year’s Rising Writers’ expo, Salinas attended the February 2022 board meeting to read her poem, “The Girl with the Blank Expression,” about a young person’s struggle with depression, mental health, loneliness, and thoughts of self-harm. Writing that poem, Salinas explained to the trustees, had helped set her on a course of renewal and creativity during a period of struggle in her own life.
“I’ve progressed so much from that,” Salinas said, “and writing has done so much for me in those times. It has helped me cope in ways that I can’t even imagine.”
Spring High School junior RJ Walker also attended the meeting. Walker, a dedicated writer who published his first novel at 14, recently added a second book to his series about a talented high school basketball player growing up while navigating school, sports, and life. Walker’s latest is called “The Legend: Tournament (Part I),” and he told trustees he was excited to see the district’s Rising Writers’ event growing and impacting more students.
“When I was in middle school, it wasn’t this big of a deal,” Walker said. “It’s just really nice to see, so I appreciate you all, you know, paying attention to us, listening to us, hearing our voices.”
Executive Director of Instructional Services Dr. Marie Mendoza introduced the student guests and explained how the Rising Writers’ expo directly connects with the district’s Literacy Plan by supporting student growth in the important areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
“You see the power that writing has, and it’s a beautiful thing,” Mendoza said after the students had each spoken. “So I just want to say thank you, and congratulations to all of our medalists.”
Trustees congratulated all of this year’s winners, and encouraged the students in attendance to continue practicing their craft as writers.
“My grandmother always said that reading was the key to knowledge. It opens up and strengthens the mind,” Board President Justine Durant said. “The strongest muscle in your body is your mind, and to be able to write something that can motivate and touch other people is a gift – it’s a gift to be treasured, and it’s a gift to celebrate.”