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Inspiring our young authors and artisits

June 16, 2008

by Jenni Sebora

I was privileged to chaperone the Young Author’s/Young Artist’s conference at the College of St. Benedict.

The conference is for elementary and Jr. high students who convey talent in writing, illustrating, and drawing.

Various break-out sessions are led and taught by talented artists, authors, illustrators and storytellers. It was a day to celebrate writing with our young artists and authors.

I was fortunate to attend a session taught by historian, storyteller and author Robert Gasch. The session focused on the history of Minnesota in the context of the celebration of our state’s 150th birthday.

Gasch engaged his young (and old) audience with stories of what life was like 150, 100 and 50 years ago in Minnesota.

He reminded us that there were no McDonald’s, Burger King and other such popular restaurant chains that existed years back, except for one restaurant that is as popular now as it was then – Dairy Queen.

Gasch humorously told the story of the “sea monster” in Long Lake. This supposed sea serpent became the subject of newspaper stories all around the state and across the nation.

The sea monster was captured “dead” by four boys who were intrigued by its existence. Gasch further revealed that the creature was dead because it was never alive. The serpent was constructed of canvas and large barrels by the town’s general store owner who wanted to liven up happenings in the small community.

A picture of the four boys and the captured sea serpent still exists as history in a nearby museum.

Gasch challenged the young audience to write a story and “build” their own “sea monster.”

The keynote speaker, Stuart Stotts, an author, storyteller, singer and motivational speaker entertained his audience with songs, jokes, stories which involved participation from all of the attendees. He told his audience that writers need inspiration.

Stotts ended his wonderful and entertaining speech with the words that before him sits close to 1,000 young people – “I am excited about the future,” he said. The energy of the participants was contagious.

The ride home on the bus was filled with chatter about the various sessions the students attended. Many students were drawing, writing or continuing with their creative writings that they started during one of the sessions they attended.

We hear about negative activities that our young people engage in, and we often hear the words, “Kids these days.” May this news, and these words, not override the many positive talents, achievements, and efforts of our youth.

As a society we need to continue to support our young artists, authors, illustrators, scientists, musicians. . . and be excited about our future.

I certainly am.

It was exciting sitting among those young people who themselves were excited to be a part of this wonderful conference experience.

May our youth find their “inspirations” for their creative minds.