First Posted: 9/26/2009
Nearly a dozen area young people recently took part in a program to write essays sharing family stories, and Saturday four of them were on hand for a public reading of their works.
The occasion was the seventh annual meeting of the Surry African-American Historical/Genealogical Society, held in Mount Airy at Mallalieu-Jones United Methodist Church.
The meeting featured displays on significant African-American achievements in recent history, most notably Barack Obamas election as U.S. president, as well as general business handled by the Society.
But the focus of the day was evident early on in the meeting.
This year we decided to focus on the kids, said Dr. Evelyn Thompson, president of the group. We hope to do more to encourage the kids to write.
That was the goal of this years gathering, she said to interest the area youth in preserving their family oral histories, and to become better at writing by recording those histories.
Saturday four of those who submitted essays three others were sick and two were attending other functions were able to read their work to the assembled audience.
I like (pubic) speaking, said 14-year-old Jaleen TeVon Hatcher, an eighthgrader at Mount Airy Middle School. I dont like writing unless I have to, he added with a smile.
For the writing help he sometimes turns to his sister, 12-year-old Elizabeth Hatcher, a seventh grader at Mount Airy Middle School.
I like doing this, she said. I like making it (the writing) come from you and not from somewhere else, making it your own creation.
The Hatchers had similar essays, with Jaleens entitled My Role Model, and Elizabeths named My Everlasting Role Model.
Eight-year-old Jeremiah Rosser, a third-grader at J.J. Jones Elementary, said he enjoyed writing the essay, but he was quiet when discussing his work after his public reading, saying simply it had taken him only a couple of minutes to come up with his essay on The Great Trip he and other relatives had taken with his grandfather.
He just rattled it off as it came to him, said Rodney Rosser, his grandfather.
In addition to the youth who read their work, another trio of young people siblings Andrea Cokley, Angela Cokley, and Trent Cokley sang a couple of a cappella selections during Saturdays meeting.
Thompson said Saturdays meeting was the groups first effort to involve area youth in writing and public speaking, but it wont be the last.
She also hopes to get more parental and adult involvement in the group. She said the Society put the word out about the meetings activities through several area churches, a practice that will continue, but she said the group might look toward involving the schools or other groups in some manner.
The nine children and teens who submitted essays for Saturdays meeting were: Jaleen TeVon Hatcher, 14; Elizabeth Hatcher, 12; Jeremiah Rosser, 8; Kiva Allen, 11; Patrick Allen, 18; Alexis Allen, 15; Jo Alisha Snow, 9; Kai Cee Snow, 15; and Kennedy Gwyn, whose age was listed as under 10.
John Peters is the editor of The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at 719-1931 or at [email protected]