Last year’s Middle School Writing Conference proved inspiring to say the least.
On the morning of Friday, May 10, 2019, the buzz of voices subsided with the house lights in the Plaster Student Union Theater.
Illuminated by the soft glow of the stage, hundreds of students leaned forward in their seats, eyes wide, several mouths agape, all submerged in a state of captivation.
Professional surfer Shaun Tomson’s voice, soft and unhurried, filled the room: “[a] single wave changed my life because once I made the commitment, once I took the extra strokes, once in my mind I knew I was gonna go over that edge, all the fear went away. I’ll take the drop of commitment and then if something goes wrong, I’ll paddle back out.”1 In sharing his experience with the world’s most dangerous wave, the Hawaiian Banzai Pipeline, Tomson empowered students to face the waves in their own lives.
After the presentation, middle schooler Harmony A. professed, “I feel like the message was so strong that it just resonated. It left me feeling like I can do anything.”2
Initially an effort to equip students from low-income and rural schools with college- and career-ready skills, our conferences have taken on an even greater importance. Students not only improve their writing but gain the confidence to set and achieve their goals, imagine and pursue their dreams.
1Shaun Tomson. (2018, May 19). Shaun Tomson: Live the Code [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE4BPC-UPqE
2Missouri State Arts and Letters. (2019, August 28). Middle School Writing Conference [Video file]. Retrieved from https://cwccc.missouristate.edu/mswc.htm