From: The Young Writer’s Conference Committee
Ramona Metz, Donna Helble, Leslie Johns, Lee Loerch
The annual Young Writer’s Conference, hosted by Hiawatha Valley Education District of Winona, was held May 16-17, on the Winona State University campus. This year’s registration totaled 1,012 students from grades three through eight from the following school districts in Southeast Minnesota and Southwestern Wisconsin: Caledonia, Chatfield, Cochrane-Fountain City, Dakota, Dover-Eyota, Holmen, Houston, La Crescent, Lake City, Lanesboro, Lewiston-Altura, Onalaska, Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Ridgeway, Rushford-Peterson, St. Charles, Wabasha-Kellogg and Winona.
As the students, teachers, and chaperones registered at Somsen Hall each morning, they were entertained by the Winona Middle School Jazz Band. A “Welcome” was offered by WSU Vice President Dr. James Schmidt, followed by presenter introductions. The presenters were: Al Batt (naturalist), Lisa Bullard (nonfiction/mystery), Bev Cotter (historical), Michael Cotter (storytelling), Patti Darbo (songwriting), Terri DeGezelle (fiction), Erin Downing (young adult novels), William Durbin (historical young adult fiction), Amanda Hardy (musician and songwriter), Carrie Hartman (illustrator), Ryan Jacobson (fiction), Nelda Liebig (non-fiction), Tom Overlie (Newscaster/Media), Rick Ponzio (fiction), Patrick Ryan (extreme sports), Laura Purdie Salas (poetry), Kathryn Sullivan (science fiction/fantasy), Brittany Styles (radio personality), Jacqueline West (fantasy/adventure/magic), and Dean Young (science fiction).
Throughout each day, members of the Winona and Rushford High School Honor Society directed students to sessions in Minné Hall and to Kryzsko Commons for lunch, prizes and book sales. Members of the Winona Honor Society also helped on Monday and Wednesday prior to the conference with assembling and transporting materials.
The following comments were made by the presenters: “The students are so well behaved;” “The students displayed a great interest in writing;” and “They had a willingness to participate and share their stories.”
It is frequently noted that this conference will have a great influence in the students’ education. Former participants who are now in high school and beyond have been asked if this conference was helpful and the response is always “yes.” Students also enjoy having the experience of being on the WSU campus as it gives them insight as to a place for their college education.
We extend a heartfelt thank-you to Chartwell’s Food Service, Winona Middle School Jazz Band, Winona and Rushford Honor Society students, adult chaperones from each school, and the assistance of Ione Loerch and Roger Metz.
We thank the business and following individuals and organizations for their generous support: Donna Helble, Robert Kierlin and Mary Burrichter, Elizabeth Callender King Foundation, Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, Inc. through funding from the Minnesota State Legislature, Winona Area Public Schools Foundation, Winona Community Foundation, and Winona National Bank.