Students prepare to Skype with famous authors

Jackie Beery, Staff Writer – Wednesday, November 10, at 9:45 a.m., the Lecanto High School (LHS) Media Center will be hosting it’s first author Skype session of the year with author Adam Gidwitz, who wrote the popular fairy tale spin-off series, “A Tale Dark and Grimm.”  There is already another session with a different author planned for later in the school year.  Attendees will be able to meet and ask questions of published writers using the video chat platform Skype, finding out about their books and writing styles.

Media specialist Clare Malloy was the one who started the program last year because she saw a desire in students to meet the people behind the books they were reading.

“The purpose is to introduce kids to authors they really like,” said Malloy.

Sophomore Franki Ranfone contemplates the informational poster outside the Media Center (photo:Beery).

Sophomore Franki Ranfone contemplates the informational poster outside the Media Center (Photo: Beery).

In order to attend one of these sessions, students must have read one of the author’s books and passed an Accelerated Reading (AR) test on it with an 80 percent or higher.  This policy is meant to make certain that attendees are able to participate adequately and can follow the conversation.

During the program’s debut year, there were three Skype interviews, with authors such as Alexander Gordon Smith and Todd Strasser.  Despite some of the contacts living all the way in Europe, the technological aspects of the sessions ran perfectly smoothly.

Those students that frequented the previous sessions reported having an enriching experience, even if they had never heard of the given author before reading the required material.

“Going opened me up to new genres I wouldn’t have considered before, like mystery and suspense,” said past attendee, sophomore Jason Denmark.

“It was interesting to see how the characters were drawn from personal experience,” said junior Laura Haynes.

Teachers and students agree that an opportunity such as this one can be beneficial in fostering enthusiasm about creative writing and reading.  It introduces accessibility into the prospect of professional writing, encouraging the next generation of authors to take themselves seriously.

“Authors are people just like us, but people often fail to see that.  [This opportunity] opens up the doorway for students to see themselves as potential authors,” said English teacher and creative writing club sponsor, Dr. Judy Castillo.