UM-Flint Alum Christopher Paul Curtis Brings "Writing Adventure" to Flint Fourth Graders

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Every fourth grader from the Flint Community Schools had an opportunity to attend the "Christopher Paul Curtis Writing Adventure" recently held in the University of Michigan-Flint Theatre.

Now in its fourth year, over 2,000 students have heard award-winning author and UM-Flint alum Christopher Paul Curtis relate his experiences growing up in Flint, his love of writing, and how, through the values of hard work and creativity, they can explore and develop a personal interest in writing.

The Flint Public Library enriches the presentation through the involvement of one of its librarians. Students are encouraged to use the free resources of the library and explore the world through exciting books of all subjects.

"It's a wonderful chance to get every fourth grader to experience the university, and find out it's  someplace practical and is open to them," said Curtis. "Participating in the program will get them excited and bring them encouragement by someone telling them they did a good job."

Each student is challenged to return to their respective schools and engage in a writing competition.

The students choose one of two "story starters" to begin their narrative.

One begins, "Pull up a chair and let me tell you what it is that makes me different from anyone else in the world." The second begins by asking the reader, "Could you sit down for a second and read about the funniest (or saddest or happiest or most exciting or scariest) thing that ever happened in my life?"

Each of the 14 schools selects one essay from the 4th grade classes to be reviewed by Curtis who then selects a first, second, and third place winner. All 14 students return with their families and teachers to the UM-Flint campus for a special reception and awards ceremony that will take place on April 16, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Two other elements have been incorporated in this year's Christopher Paul Curtis Writing Adventure. The first is the addition of the STAR Program (Smart Teachers as Role Models) being incorporated into the program. STAR is a collaborative initiative funded by the C.S. Mott Foundation that involves UM-Flint, Mott Community College, Baker College, and Kettering University. STAR focuses on providing leadership and development to men underrepresented in the teaching profession.

Additionally, there will be an opportunity for UM-Flint Education students to attend one of the two sessions. Both practicing teachers (graduate students) and teacher candidates (undergraduates) are regularly expected to read and respond to Curtis' books.

"This is a great opportunity for us to bring our teacher candidates in to interact with students they may someday be teaching," noted Interim Dean Bob Barnett of the School of Education and Human Services.

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