Young Writers Conference 2015

Carol Ryon, Young Writers Conference Coordinator


The 2015 Young Writers Conference is now over for another year.  It was held at William Penn University on March 12th and 13th.  Approximately 700 student writers invaded the campus to share their writing with their peers, listen to interesting keynote speakers, and attend interesting workshops.  Sixteen districts were represented on the elementary day with 380 students and 50 teachers, associates and parent volunteers. On the secondary day, seventeen districts and 35 teachers, associates and parent volunteers participated.

Secondary 1Rachel Aukes, was our Secondary Day keynote speaker and is an American horror/science fiction/fantasy novelist. She writes dark fantasy romance and science fiction romance under the pen name Berinn Rae. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association and lives in Des Moines. You may find out more about Rachel and her books at

Jeff Mondak, was our Elementary Day keynote speaker.  He is an Illinois-based poet and songwriter. Jeff Mondak’s programs educate and entertain. Accompanied by musician Tim Frazier, Jeff combined discussion of poetry and songwriting with sheer foot-stomping, hand-clapping fun. Jeff’s poems appear in My Teacher’s in Detention, I Hope I Don’t Strike Out, Rolling in the Aisles and more. Jeff has recorded two CDs, each featuring him reciting over 30 poems, accompanied by an all-star cast of musicians. Jeff’s songs appear on several other CDs including Mick Brady’s 2013 release Triple the Pickle, and Jeff’s songs have aired on NPR’s All Things Considered, the Dr. Demento Show, and many children’s music radio programs. Find out more about Jeff at http://jeffspoemsforkids.

YW Elementary 1Many favorite workshops included the Storybook players from Oskaloosa High School, Calligraphy, Prepare to Scare, Publishing, Creating Characters, Write Your Own Poem, What if …, and Burying Boring Words.   Students had a total of eleven workshops on the elementary day and nine on the secondary day to choose from.

The “Sharing Session” gave each student the opportunity to share their story or poem with nine other students.  Before attending the conference students wrote a story they would share with others.  Groups of 10 students shared their stories with to the group.  Comments from students included they enjoyed hearing the positive comments, and enjoyed sharing their work with others and hearing others’ stories.

A special “thank you” goes out to our presenters who helped make this conference a memorable experience for all participants, our teacher and parent volunteers, William Penn University and staff, and GPAEA support staff Lisa Sines and Shannon Johnson.

It was an exciting day full of rich experiences, helping students to discover new ideas to help spark their writing.  Even the weather cooperated after the fog cleared to provide great spring days for the conference. The 2015 Young Writers Conference was a great success.

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