So it’s WRITERS WEEK here at Libertyville High School: a full week when we invite professional writers of various sorts to dazzle, inspire, and challenge our students. With any luck, these presenters’ love for the written word will become contagious—infecting our teenagers with a desire to truly craft their own prose or poetry, taking more care than ever before and holding themselves to a higher standard.

And I must admit, it is my favorite week of the year.

It’s only Wednesday and already students are talking about how fantastic authors like Jay Asher (13 Reasons Why, The Future of Us), Jay Bonansinga (The Killer’s Game, The Walking Dead: The Rise of the Governor), Megan Stielstra (Everyone Remain Calm), and poets Robbie Q. Telfer, J. W. Basilo, and Derrick Brown have changed the way they think about writing, reading, and living.

If there are any other teachers reading this, I highly recommend you call these folks up and book them at your school (but it will cost some $$$-we do a lot of fundraising). They are all fantastic presenters and your students will love every minute. Truthfully, the kids will have so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning and gaining important advice.

I spend a good deal of time helping organize this event. I don’t get paid extra for it—it’s simply something I love and that I firmly believe is important. Really, it’s kind of like putting on our own little writing conference. As a teacher, I’m thrilled at the students’ reactions. As a writer, I enjoy talking to professional writers and I’m inspired by what they do, their work, and the stories they have to tell.

Tomorrow we have musician Chris Bryan (“The Sum of My Habits”) and Kathy Hart from the Chicago area talk show Eric and Kathy in the Morning. With fun entertainers talking about their craft, their careers, and their love of writing and the arts, I am certain the week will continue to blow us all away.

But there is one other reason WRITERS WEEK is so special: our very own student writers and presenters. We ask students to submit their own original short fiction and poetry, take to the stage, and share it with the 200 – 500 other students sitting in the auditorium. Trust me: you’d be amazed at what these young men and women can achieve, what they can say, and what they can make us feel. The entire week is for the students, but in the end, the students themselves steal the show.

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