Gracious Living and Youth Writing


2009 Telling My Story Authors and Artists
2009 Telling My Story Authors and Artists
On Sunday I watched an episode of “Pinky Dinky Doo” with my daughter. The story in this particular episode featured the word “gracious.”

It’s never too early to start learning how to live a gracious life, and it’s never too late to try to live more graciously. Living a gracious life is not easy, but people who live their lives graciously can make the world a most amazing place.

Last Saturday eight students from Northside Intermediate School became published authors. They received their books, written through the Telling My Story program, at a book signing party held at The Gathering Place. Seven high school students, who illustrated the stories, became published artists along with the authors.

The book signing ceremony was graced by the presence of proud parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, friends, teachers and mentors. These people, who have graciously supported the students in their efforts to write and publish a book in four weeks, continued to show their support and share in the success of these students.

The success of this program, now concluding its second year, is due in large part to the gracious donations of time, talent and money from people in Milton and Janesville. Local Milton businesses including: Dave’s Ace Hardware, Rudy Gaddini Insurance, Milton Savings Bank, First Community Bank, and Milton Propane, donated funds to cover the book printing charges. Milton Fund and Alliant Energy Foundation grants also helped make this year’s program possible. Senior citizens donated their time to mentor the students; teachers donated several Saturday mornings; and high school art students took time from busy schedules to work with younger students in a service learning experience.

Milton is a gracious city, full of gracious people who have set an excellent example for these young authors and artists with their support and care. And hopefully, in addition to learning a little about writing, grammar and proofreading, these students have also learned from example about living graciously.

I learned a little about gracious living when a Janesville resident came to the reception simply because she was interested in the program. Her mom had been a librarian, and she had grown up with a life-long love of books and reading. She wanted to share that love with a new generation. She liked what she saw in the students, the intergenerational nature of the program, and in the work that we had done. She made a very generous donation toward next year’s program—an extremely gracious gesture that will influence the lives of all our student authors, artists, senior citizen mentors, teachers and volunteers next year.

I don’t know how the Telling My Story program will influence the students who participate in it. Perhaps an art student will have a stronger portfolio for that art program application after high school. Perhaps a young author will go on to write the next great American novel. Perhaps the confidence gained from this challenge met will lead these students to try the daunting subjects of chemistry, physics, biology and calculus.

Or perhaps, they will live their lives just a little more graciously, a little more carefully, a little more in tune with the society around them because they are fortunate enough to have benefited from the graciousness of others.

If that is all Telling My Story accomplishes, it will have accomplished a lot.

© 2009 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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