It was a true literary event. It had a prequel, main event and a sequel.
Recently, all fifth-grade seven classrooms at West Oak Middle School in Mundelein got a taste of the literary world at the school's own Writer's Conference, developed by fifth-grade teacher Katherine Crawford. At the conference, the students learned about reporting, writing and storytelling.
The annual event included advance sessions that focused on interviewing and reporting tips in addition to the conference's activities that feature writing and writing presentation.
"This day lets the students see themselves as real writers. It helps students to feel appreciated as real writers, too," Crawford said. The prequel happened a few weeks before Writer's Conference. Students learned tips about interviewing and about writing attention-getting conclusions during "Lunch 'N Learn" events.
On the day of the Writer's Conference, students put their reporter knowledge to the test by interviewing West Oak teachers, staff and administrators.
Jaime Gallegos, 11, interviewed the school tech teacher about new products of interest to students.
"Asking questions is fun, but it's also hard," Gallegos said.
Articles featured interviews with the superintendent, various teachers, the cafeteria director, the school nurse, the DARE officer, the librarian and the school secretaries. Subjects included summer health tips, school sports team results, a lesson on NASCAR racing and a preview of new tech products.
Classroom artists were able to share their talents by drawing pictures that were pasted next to the articles. One student created a special illustration for the day's weather.
When completed, the articles were attached to the oversized "West Oak Times."
Special guest Eray Durson, a West Oak sixth-grader, gave a talk to this year's students about his experiences as a writer. His work, "Little Red Riding Hood: The Wolf's Side," was published in the Daily Herald after last year's Writer's Conference.
Durson encouraged the students to think about their audience when they prepare to write. Writers from this year's fifth-grade class will have an opportunity to provide the sequel to the event when their works are selected for publication in the Daily Herald.
In addition to the newspaper simulation, students attended a workshop where they wrote stories using pictures. There was also a storytelling event in which they wrote stories using five preselected words, and Author's Chair during which students read one of their works to other student authors.
"Students feel a sense of pride in seeing their work published and develop collaborative skills by working in groups. It's a great opportunity for students," fifth-grade teacher Nicole Lynch said.
Student Abi Gomez, 11, shared her fairy tale during Author's Chair, which was a mixed-up version of Cinderella.
Gomez's Cinderella was the complete opposite of the one most readers know -- in her story, the new version of Cinderella loved to clean and didn't want to attend the ball.
"I thought it was fun. You learn a lot about the whole writing activity, and it helps you to read because you understand what the writing is," said Zenaya Barnes, 11.