Monsters, superheroes and spies make an appearance in a slew of stories penned by fourth- and fifth-grade students at London City Schools last month.
“The variety was amazing,” elementary reading specialist Alicia Anthony said. “I was amazed by their creativity. They don’t get to use that as much.”
The stories were written as part of National Novel Writing Month.
NaNoWriMo, as it is more commonly known, launched in 1999, according to its website. It challenges students and grown-ups to put 50,000 words on paper throughout the month of November. More than 300,000 people across the world participated in 2014.
The London students set their own goals for length, Anthony said. Then they wrote most of their stories — which spanned in length from three pages to nearly 80 — outside of the classroom.
“The goal was to motivate and inspire them to have fun writing,” Anthony said. “We wanted them to realize they could put something on the page that will last.”
Anthony, who has done the challenge on her own in prior years, joined forces with fourth-grade teacher Mark Stafford to offer the opportunity to students.
More than 100 started the challenge. Nearly half — 45 students, to be exact — continued writing to the end of the month.
“I think we were both a little shocked at how many students wanted to be part of it, and how many saw it through,” Anthony said.
The genres the students wrote spanned from adventure to spy thriller to horror.
Fourth-grader Julie Dunkley drew her inspiration from Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, writing her own character into the group of demigods and their modern mythological adventures.
Joshua Lickliter, also a fourth-grade student, based his story on his favorite animated television series, “Teen Titans,” except his star characters are children of the Teen Titans and tackle their own missions.
Fourth-grader Laney Almond’s main character was a dog named Sarah, who dreamt of going to Paris. Then Sarah meets Jack, a boy dog who lives outside her woods. Sarah leaves to woods to see Jack, but learns he is actually a villain. She uses her magical powers to get The Wizard to help defeat him.
Fifth-grader Raighen Combs based her adventure story on a family vacation to the beach, but in her version, she goes with a group of friends instead.
Fifth-grade student Abbey Patterson’s main character starts as a girl being bullied who learns that her mother is a spy. But events transpire to send her character to Paris in a race to find the rainbow jewel.
Shane Lanter, a fourth-grade student, wrote about the adventures of Hot Dog and Hamburger.
Fourth-grader Ava Ripley wrote about superheroes named Speed Blaster and Piggy Bank — their moms were the villains.
Fourth-grade student Addie Keplinger opted to send her characters into a haunted house. Spoiler alert: Anabelle dies, and killing her off was her author’s favorite scene to write.
But the best part of the project was writing with her friends, Keplinger added.
Anthony and Stafford welcomed students into their classrooms to write during office hours and before and after school.
Stafford fielded a few worried emails from parents as the project started.
“It’s just for fun because writing is awesome,” he assured them — no need to worry about a grade.
At the end of the month, the teachers held a read-in over lunch to allow students who wanted to participate to share their stories with each other.
They hope to hold a similar month-of-writing challenge in April.
The students were quick to voice their enthusiasm.
“Maybe we’ve created monsters,” Anthony said with a laugh. “We’d like to see how far we can take it.”
Audrey Ingram can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615 or via Twitter @Audrey.MP.