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Former student helps Voyager Elementary fourth-graders become published authors

Gig Harbor High student Finlay Adamson is surrounded by fourth-graders in Rhonda Haug’s class at Voyager Elementary who show off their books their writing is featured in.
Gig Harbor High student Finlay Adamson is surrounded by fourth-graders in Rhonda Haug’s class at Voyager Elementary who show off their books their writing is featured in. Staff writer

The goal of being a published writer is one many people dream of and work toward, with many authors working several years or their whole lives to make the dream a reality.

Reaching this goal at an early age are 20 fourth-grade students in Rhonda Haug’s class at Voyager Elementary who wrote original short stories and poems around the theme “100 Years in the Future.”

The students participated in a project led by Gig Harbor High School senior-to-be Finlay Adamson, 16, who forged the partnership as his service project for the National Honor Society.

“It was a personal thing. Through the National Honor Society I had to do a service project (and) I decided to go with this because it would make me work harder and branch out,” Adamson said. “I wanted to pick a project that involved the entire community instead of just the service chapter.”

Adamson contacted Haug — his former fourth grade teacher — about the project and she was able to include it into her curriculum for the students. Many of them were excited to start the project and began writing even before the assignment became official.

“They had a choice of writing a poem or narrative story about what the world would be like 100 years from now,” Haug explained. “I left it really loose ... they were all really excited about it.”

The excitement the students felt largely stemmed from Adamson, who presented the project to the class, she said.

“I think he did great. It was very well organized,” Haug said. “I’m really happy with the result and that my kids got to participate.”

Adamson collected and typed — with some more help from the fourth-grade class — the finished stories and poems from the students. He then had the book printed through CreateSpace on Amazon, with the printing fees covered by the local chapter of the National Honor Society.

After finishing the book, Adamson returned to Haug’s classroom June 19 to hand a copy of the book out to each participating student and encourage them to read a portion of their writing aloud for the class.

“That was my favorite part, handing it out and seeing how excited they were,” Adamson said. “The project is promoting literacy and critical thinking. If we can get these kids thinking about the future now then we can start changing it.”

Adamson has plans to expand his project with other high schools throughout Western Washington, encouraging collaboration between high school and elementary school students in further projects.

Haug was delighted to see Adamson back in her classroom and reaching out to younger students to share his talent and passion for writing, something he has been working on since an elementary student himself.

“It was such a pleasure to have a former student come back. He was a great kid and great writer in fourth grade and it was great to see how he’s grown from there,” she said. “I feel very honored that he asked our class to do this. He could have asked anybody.”

For Adamson, the fourth-grade students are the real stars of his project.

“I’d like to thank you guys for working with me because without you I wouldn’t have had anything to publish,” he told the class before presenting their books.

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea