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YSU English Festival

YSU English Festival

On Wednesday, April 17th, Youngstown State University hosted its annual English Festival for high school students. On Friday the 19th, they hosted their 7th-9th grade English Festival. Many counties in the Valley attend the festival including Mahoning, Columbiana, Trumbull, Mercer, and Lawrence counties.  

This year, 28 students in 7th-12th grade from Lowellville attended the event on YSU’s campus. This event’s premise is that seven books are selected for students to read. This year’s 10th-12th grade books were Six of Crows, In the Wild Light, The Serpent King, They Called Us Enemy, I Must Betray You, Monday’s Not Coming, and Here We Are Now. The 7th-9th books were The Inheritance Games, The Blackbird Girls, Starfish, They Called Us Enemy, A Rover’s Story, The Shape of Thunder, and The Serpent King. At the event, students can choose from different tracks of activities, including Impromptu (an essay writing contest), journalism workshop, prose workshop, writing lab, writing games, and Not-So-Trivial Pursuit. This is a well-loved event among Lowellville students. The Primous family had all three of their high school kids attend the event. Kaden Primous said, “We love the books and the stories being told through them. The events are  very entertaining.” 

Two authors attended the events to speak to students. These authors are Jasmine Warga, who wrote Here We Are Now, A Rover’s Story, and Shape of Thunder, and Jeff Zetner, who wrote In the Wild Light, and The Serpent King.

In Jasmine’s speech, she discussed her journey of becoming a writer. She grew up in Cincinnati and felt excluded throughout school, as she was the only Muslim person in her school. She has wanted to become a writer since the first grade and always felt as though it was a way to express her stories. . Her books touch on topics that she said many people do not talk about, such as mental health, depression, the LGBTQ+ community, and war. Due to this, many of her books have been banned. Although many try to hide her books, she felt that it was important to discuss these topics to help break the stigma that surrounds them. 

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Jeff discussed his journey to become an author. He originally pursued a music career, was in a band, volunteered  at a music camp for teens in Tennessee, and tried to “make it big.” After having a realization one night that “people over 30 can’t make it big in music,” he decided to take a different career path as a prosecutor. One case that he worked on even appeared on the show Nightline. After a while, he realized that he still wanted to create art for young adults. He wanted to create something that would appeal to a teenage audience while impacting young adults and himself. He decided to write young adult literature. He has now published four books with a fifth on the way. 

Awards are given to students who excel in different events. On Thursday, junior Alana Lopez and sophomore Cheyenne Bott received second place in Not So Trivial Pursuit. On Friday, eighth grade students Morgan DeMain and Kaileen Diaz came in third place for Not So Trivial Pursuit and seventh graders Ella Lewis and Malena Sturm came in first and Emma Wirtz came in second place Reese Goodman, an eighth grader, came in first place for Limericks. 

Junior Madison Esposito attended the YSU English festival for the first time this year. She decided that she wanted to try something new and heard good things about the books. Her favorite book from the selection was I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys.  During the festival, Maddie enjoyed getting to interact and meet new people. She would love to do it again next year and she encourages others to try it out.  

Nately Rolland, an eighth grader at Lowellville, attended the YSU English Festival for the first time this year. She chose to join due to her love of reading. She said, “I loved getting to discuss the books with other people who enjoy reading as much as I do.” Her favorite book from the selection was The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. She became so interested in the book that she ended up reading the entire series. She said, “The whole series kept me on the edge of my seat. I was never bored.” Hearing the authors speak showed her that their career may be something she is interested in pursuing in the future. She says that she had a great experience and will definitely attend the event next year. 

Eighth grader Morgan DeMain also attended the festival. She attended the event last year and was eager to attend again this year. She loves getting to meet new people and participating in the activities. Her favorite book was also The Inheritance Games. She strongly encourages others to participate in the event, even if you are not super passionate about reading, it can be beneficial to give it a chance. 


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