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updated: 4/10/2014 5:09 PM

Wheaton North starts 'Writers Wall of Fame' to honor alumni

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  • Mawi Asgendom is one of nearly 20 Wheaton North High School graduates who will be recognized on the school's new 'Writers Wall of Fame.'

    Mawi Asgendom is one of nearly 20 Wheaton North High School graduates who will be recognized on the school's new 'Writers Wall of Fame.'
    Daily Herald file photo


Former Wheaton North High School students who have found success by writing published works will soon be honored with a "Writers Wall of Fame."

English teacher Debby VanGetson said small framed posters featuring the names, graduation years and brief descriptions of the alumni's work will be hung next week on a wall outside the library that recognizes a top senior English student each year.

The hope, she said, is that the display will spark an interest in students as they walk by, perhaps leading them to the published works, which will be on display inside the library.

"They'll see that Wheaton North grads have actually done this," she said. "There's nothing like your hometown hero to inspire others to follow in their footsteps."

For months, teachers in the school's English department have been gathering information about alumni with published works. So far, they have gathered the names of close to 20 former students who have written books or contributed to journals and magazines.

"We are still looking and we know that there are writers who have slipped through the cracks," VanGetson said. "We're hoping that this is a continuing and growing endeavor."

Some authors who have already been identified include Mawi Asgedom, an Ethiopian refugee who attended Harvard University after graduating from Wheaton North and wrote the memoir "Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy's Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard."

Farah Ahmedi is another Wheaton North graduate who found success writing about her life as a refugee. The Afghan wrote The New York Times best-seller "The Other Side of the Sky: A Memoir" while she was still a student at Wheaton North, VanGetson said.

Two alumnae who now work as freelance journalists also will be featured, including health and environmental writer Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan, who serves as the editor-in-chief of national park publications, such as Yellowstone Journal and Grand Canyon Journal.

Ruth Graham is a contributing writer to The Boston Globe's Ideas section. Her articles about American history, culture, women and Christianity have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire and other publications.

Academic writers are being acknowledged too, VanGetson said. That includes Dan Kindlon, an educational psychologist who has written numerous academic articles along with The New York Times best-seller "Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys."

"We're really proud of Wheaton North and its graduates," VanGetson said.

Anyone who wants to provide the department with information about a published Wheaton North graduate should call (630) 784-7300 or email

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