Last Friday evening, Scarsdale held its first-ever Teen Writers’ Conference, hosting approximately 93 teens from area middle and high schools who participated in a wide array of writers’ workshops.
The idea was initiated by a group of students from the Scarsdale Public Library Teen Advisory Board, a group of high schooler students who garner publicity for the library in the form of teen events. Inspired by the annual Young Writers’ Conference, the Teen Advisory Board strove to form their own clinic for adolescents.
The conference covered subjects ranging from journalism and creative writing to sports writing and science fiction workshops. Professional authors and journalists taught the classes and answered questions, including Todd Strasser, Alice Coleman, Sheela Chari, Marilyn Johnson, Carrie Gilpin, Barbara Josselson, Henry Fountain, Brian Brown (Marisa's father) and Michael Cain.
Scarsdale Patch spoke with Teen Advisory Board member and SHS freshman Marisa Brown about the Teen Writers’ Conference. Brown said the writers’ workshops are a great opportunity for teens who wish to improve their writing pursue careers in the field. In high school and middle school, said Brown, large amounts of writing are required from teens, both for school and extracurricular activities.
“This is the first year we’re having the writers conference—we’re trying it out and hopefully, it will be a success and we can continue it,” Brown said. "It’s very important to learn how to write and improve writing skills.”
Brown also noted that the conference isn’t just open to the Scarsdale School District.
“We planned it with the help from the library. Whoever wants to come can apply. We even opened it to other districts so it’s open to anyone," Brown said. "Some people found out about the event through the authors so they signed up.”
Nicole Chi, a SHS senior and co-president of the Teen Advisory Board, said that she and fellow co-president Dana Bernstein hope to make the writers’ conference an annual event
“We really tried to reach out to the middle schoolers and high schoolers. The workshops are separated by age so that middle schoolers won’t be in a workshop with high schoolers," Chi said.
Chi explained that the conference was arranged so that local authors could participate in close-knit workshops with participants.
"The authors interacted with kids who have a passion and interest for writing. The workshops are very small and intimate,” Chi said.
Library Director Beth Bermel credited the evening's events, which took three months to plan, to the Teen Advisory Board.
“We formed the Teen Advisory Board to get some input of what we want in the library building. From that point, the group was born," Bermel said. "This year, they decided that their big project was going to be a writers’ conference. The kids planned it from start to finish."
“We’re very impressed with the kids. They took the lead on a great project that succeeded beyond my expectations,” Bermel said.