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GBE Students Write Their Own Books

Greenbriar East Elem. celebrates an Evening with the Arts.

Sixth-grader Willie Carlin made a scrapbook about John Adams, the second president of the United States, writing it "in the first person, as if I were him." Second-grader Isaac Harrison wrote about his favorite holiday, St. Patrick's Day, "because green's my favorite color and clovers are green."

Both participated in Greenbriar East Elementary's Book Celebration and Evening with the Arts, celebrating the connection between the arts and writing. Students displayed the books they wrote and the artwork they produced, imitating the styles of the masters, via the GRACE Arts in the Schools program. In addition, parents supervised an art activity in the art room, and Principal Linda Cohen read the students a related story.

IN HIS SCRAPBOOK, Willie made birth and marriage certificates on the computer, plus a family tree, for Adams. He also included a copy of a letter Adams wrote to his wife and colored the flags of Holland and France "because Adams was a diplomat to both of them."

Willie also put in a copy of the Declaration of Independence, which Adams signed, and a dollar bill "because that currency came out during his lifetime in the 18th century." He had fun making the book and learned a lot, he said, because he "actually spent time doing the research and studying about Adams."

Isaac, 8, stamped green clovers on the cover of his book as decorations and dedicated it to his parents and others special to him. In the "About the Author" section inside, he said his favorite author is Jarrett J. Krosoczka, who wrote the children's book "Baghead."

Then Isaac illustrated his St. Patrick's Day book with crayon drawings of himself and his twin brother. However, he said, "My favorite part is the cover.

His brother Daniel, 8, wrote a book called "The Mali King." In it, he's a king with a crown and a red palace. And in his kingdom, said Daniel, "There are no guns or BB guns." He got the idea when his class studied ancient Mali and said making the book was easy. "I liked coloring the palace best," he added.

The twins were ball boys for GMU's basketball team, and Daniel dedicated his book to GMU sophomore Jordan Carter, who coaches the Junior Patriots basketball team. Daniel's favorite author is Dr. Seuss because "he has funny stories, like 'The Cat in the Hat.'"

Fourth-grader Ahmed Hamid, 9 1/2, wrote about famous Virginians and decorated his cover with drawings including Thomas Jefferson with a flag. His table of contents contained a list of these Virginians and the names of his classmates who wrote about them for the book assignment.

He wrote about Chief Powhatan who helped the settlers at Jamestown and included a photo. In the "About the Author" section, Ahmed wrote that he was born in Vienna, Austria and was a student in teacher Kelley Hargreaves' class. He also wrote that he "like[s] ice cream, is a fun guy and has a nice family." His favorite author is Judy Blume because of her character named Fudge.

FIFTH-GRADER Veronica Bonilla, 11, wrote "The Doggy Wedding" and had pictures of different types of dogs on the cover. In "About the Author" she said she's a safety patrol, this is her first published book and her family is very proud of her.

Veronica's story is about a wedding between a poodle and a dachshund because "I always wanted to write about dogs, my sister's favorite dog is a poodle and I used to have a wiener dog." She said she and her classmates had fun writing their books: "We all felt like we were real authors."

Eight-year-old Carolina Bonilla, in second grade, wrote about Easter and decorated her cover with colored-pencil drawings of the Easter Bunny, a tree, a basket of eggs and candy. "Easter is my favorite holiday because the Easter Bunny comes," she explained. "And this Easter was the same day as my birthday."

Sixth-grader Tasia Seward, 11, wrote about Betsy Ross. She told about Ross' childhood and how she loved to play games and "make art designs for sewing," and included fabric pieces and a blue ribbon in her book "because Betsy Ross won blue ribbons for her sewing."

Seward drew a replica of Ross' flag with markers, plus a bible because Ross "told stories from it to her relatives' children." She decorated the cover with a flower created with red, white and blue pipe cleaners.

First-grader Genny Moortgat collected everyone's poems in her class and created a poetry anthology. She included a class photo and dedicated the book to "the future first-grade poets of GBE." And she listed the students' names and the page numbers of their poems in her table of contents.

She illustrated each poem with computer pictures and, in her "About the Author" section, Genny wrote that her favorite color is pink, she loves chocolate and especially likes the book, "In the Cabin." Her poem, "What is Pink" is as follows: "It is the color of an eraser. And a bunny's nose. It's the color of a flower."

Vienna Husson, 6, also did a poetry anthology and listed her favorite food as ice cream and favorite book, "Just Like Dora." Her poem, titled "Pink," was: "Pink is a girl's favorite color. Pink is like the sun. Pink is so much fun."

Sixth-grader Megan Husson, 12, wrote "Memories of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis." On the cover was a photo of Onassis, and inside were flags showing her French and Irish background; a replica of her birth certificate; photos of her horse, wedding day and family; and a timeline of when she attended each of her schools.

She also included John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential-election campaign buttons and banners, photos of the White House and of Jackie Kennedy's restoration of antique items there, plus a page of Jackie's famous quotes.

"SHE BECAME first lady in 1961," said Megan. "She was a role model, so I wrote her an appreciation letter. I really liked making the book because I learned about someone who I didn't know had changed American history. And now I can see why she was such an important person."

Greenbriar East's Evening with the Arts was a joint effort between the school's Art Department, all the other teachers and GRACE Arts. It culminated the students' work in writing and art throughout the school year.

Maureen Clement and Jackie Tury coordinate the GRACE Arts in the Schools program, and they attended GBE's special night showcasing its students' achievements in both fields. Tury explained how the program works.

"We feature a different artist every month, and parent volunteers present this artist's information to the students," she said. "Then the students do a hands-on project imitating that artist's style. The cafeteria is the GRACE art gallery during the year, and the pictures are changed monthly. Then for the Evening with the Arts, we have a sampling of each of the artists we've done during the year."