Rotary clubs collaborate to inspire students to write from the heart

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Jamie Wei
Jaymie Wei
Photos/submitted

Region – The school year is now over and as students cleaned out their lockers, they took with them books and memories from another school year. For some local students, they will take with them a book that contains a short story, an essay or a poem that they wrote from their hearts.

The Shrewsbury and Worcester Rotary clubs published a book called “From My Heart,” consisting of works submitted by students from a diverse selection of schools who shared their most inner thoughts through writing.

They worked with English and creative writing teachers from Abby Kelly Foster Charter School and Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, and Grafton and

Zayda Waters
Zayda Waters
Photos/submitted

Shrewsbury high schools. Teachers submitted their favorite pieces for publication.

According to Shrewsbury Rotary Club member Stu Deane, goals of the project included “a reason to do some creative writing, a chance to be published and to help build self-esteem.”

“No attempt was made to modify content except for something inappropriate for others,” he said.

A book launch was held at Shrewsbury High School in March, when selected students read their works and each participant was given a copy of the book.

When asked about the project, Shrewsbury senior Jaymie Wei said, “Writing is great because you can use it to hang on to or let go of certain experiences. It helps me put my feelings into concrete terms that someone else may find relatable.”

Wei’s short story, “Close Reading,” was personal.

“I was with a friend who was doing her math homework, and she was being really down on herself to the point where it definitely wasn’t about math anymore. She said some things like ‘I want to die’ or ‘Shoot me.’ That made me think about all the other times I’ve heard those remarks or said them myself… I felt like I needed to explore the ways in which depression and anxiety can manifest in an academic environment.”

Wei has happy to have worked with her sophomore English teacher Nick Splaine, who was also the advisor for Excelsior, the school’s literary magazine. Wei was president of the magazine and will be Dartmouth College in the fall.

Grafton High ninth-grader Zayda Waters added that she would love to pursue a career in writing, either as an English teacher or as an author.

“Anything just to help people forget what’s bugging them and to feel better,” she said.

Waters wrote a poem called “Mae” about a person she met once and about what she might have been thinking, what her life was like beyond what she was seeing.

“I selected it because along with making up a story behind my character’s experience, I put a few of my own experiences in it and how I think things might have turned out for me if I didn’t have the people around me and if I did not have the opportunities I had to be the best version of me I could be,” she noted.

Waters shared that Anthony Marando at Grafton High School submitted her work.

“I love working with him and I’m really excited to be taking his English class next year along with his creative writing class,” she said.

For more information about the Shrewsbury Rotary Club visit, www.shrewsburyrotary.org.