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Sixth-grade writers share their talents with public readings

COVINGTON -- Sixth-graders at the Newton County Theme School are getting creative with their writing.

Language arts teacher Cathy Moll assigns a one-word topic each month for the students to write about. As an added incentive, Moll selects five stories from each class and invites the young authors to read their stories aloud in front of their teachers and classmates on the Square in Covington one Friday a month.

"I provide a one-word title, and the students write a story based on their own interpretation of that word," Moll said.

For instance, Moll has assigned the titles, "The Star," "The Game" and "The Voice."

In November, sixth-graders worked from the title, "The Key."

"We also provide this time as a forum for those students who want to share their talents other than writing," Moll said. "We have a class event coordinator, and she solicits and has auditions for those who want to perform between the readings."

This is the first sixth-grade class at the Theme School. Moll taught for several years in Rockdale County, and she credits Janelle Smith, a former colleague at Davis Middle School, for helping her develop this idea.

On Friday morning, the students bundled up in winter coats and hats and walked with their teachers and parent volunteers from the school located in the former Ficquett Elementary School building to the Square, where they gathered around a small sound system set up under a tent.

Sixth-grader Olivia Melion kicked the morning off by singing an a cappella version of the National Anthem.

Then Moll announced the names of the writers who would share their interpretation of "The Key."

The students whose stories were selected to be read this month were Jaylen Simons, Alexander Lowe, Eli Vinson, Payton Vandergriff, Isabelle Rogers, Grace Beasley, Sherri Oladapo, Levi Barr, Zion Milon, Nicholas Depkin, Billy Allen, Alexander Maxell, Conrad Martin, Wes Conner and Takiya Cotton.

Some of the students, like Takiya Cotton, wrote a story about a literal key that opened the way for a sweet treat. Alexander Lowe, on the other hand, wrote about the figurative key to happiness.

Moll said she does not grade these assignments as tightly as she does other work because she wants the students to enjoy the act of developing a story, although she does have the students revisit their writing for other grammar, reading and writing activities.

"I focus each month on one aspect of writing," Moll said. "For example, this month was developing vivid characters. ... in December we will study persuasive writing. I'll use their stories from November to teach them to target the audience, which is an important element of persuasive writing."

Theme School sixth-graders will be on the Square one Friday each month to read their stories. The dates for upcoming reading events are Dec. 16, Jan. 20, Feb. 17, March 23 and April 27.