ELKTON — As if it hasn’t been said enough already, 2020 has been a strange year, not only for graduates but for every student and teacher in Cecil County Public Schools.
Staci Lamb, a teacher at Elkton High School, had hoped to hold a book signing event with her class of freshman writers whose works make up a collection of stories under the title, ”What You Don’t See” by the Teens from Room G115.
“Our plan now is to do something in the fall,” Lamb said. “We’ll have some kind of celebration.”
With her frosh writers 5 years ago there was a book signing and community excitement.
“People from the board offices came and got their books signed,” Lamb recalled.
Those students got the full experience and it’s something she wants these writers to have as well.
“Feeling the book makes it real. Seeing their faces when they realize, “I’m a writer. I’m an author.”
Since this was not a senior class project Lamb is certain the majority of her six classes will return in the fall. Meanwhile the book can be purchased through Amazon for $10 either for Kindle or a hard copy.
Proceeds from the sale of the books will go back to the students who plan to go to either North Bay Adventure Camp or Hershey Park.
“They’ll get an experience for writing about their experience,” Lamb said.
So many of the students wrote compelling first person stories about their private lives that Lamb opted to take the names of the authors off each piece in the book.
“There are stories about divorce, sexual orientation, gender identity, parents getting deported,” Lamb said, calling it “incredibly eye opening.”
“It reminds us how much they are championing every day. I am learning so much from them,” she said.
Maya Braddock and Jaden Ohrt are just two of the writers with stories between the covers of the paperback book. Braddock chose to write a short story in her favorite genre. Ohrt, on the other hand, wrote an autobiographical piece.
“This project had allowed me to express my love for fantasy and fiction,” Braddock said. “It was tough to have everything make sense because I didn’t want to write too much.”
Braddock told the Whig her story is called “Night of Endings.”
For Ohrt, writing “Two Years of Chaos” was cathartic.
“It’s about how my 9 year old self went through a couple major events, resulting in a more different life style than other kids that age,” Ohrt said. “In my story I come out as bisexual and most of my family hadn’t known that yet apart from my mother and uncle. This book has brought me and my family a bit closer than we already were.”
While Braddock expects to spend the summer reading “What You Don’t See” Ohrt has already devoured every page.
“I couldn’t get over the fact that no one else could feel what they were feeling by just reading the book, it was 10,000 times worst in their case,” Ohrt observed. “All of the stories were so deep and meaningful that I don’t think I could just choose a favorite.”
Braddock already has ideas for the next writing project.
“I’m starting to write another story about a girl and her rise to power and her fall from it,” she said.
Between the pandemic, police brutality and the calls for social justice Lamb wonders what the 2020-2021 school year will bring.
“I just don’t know what next year is going to look like,” she said. “Right now our job is to listen.”