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Pound Ridge Daily Voice serves Pound Ridge, NY

PRES Students Energized by Innovative Writing Workshop

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – The Pound Ridge Elementary School was invaded by pirates this past week… Story Pirates.

The Story Pirates are a national education organization whose goal is to make learning more engaging and effective. They are best known for their Play/Write Program, a series of writing workshops that make kids' own stories the basis for a big, loud and outrageous musical sketch comedy show.

On its recent visit to Pound Ridge Elementary School (PRES), which was sponsored by the PTA’s Reading Committee, the students were challenged with providing the Story Pirates ideas for an improvisational story sketch. The actors would begin the story and then ask the kids, “OK, what happens next?” The actors would disappear backstage and return wearing an assortment of silly wigs, glasses and jackets. The students were a bit shy at first, but as the program continued, their enthusiasm grew.

“By the end, everyone had their hands up,” said Lynn Borsellino, a key communicator for the PRES PTA “Sometimes someone would raise their hand and say something nutty and [the Story Pirates] would just carry it on doing something nutty. They have great talent and know how to spark the imagination. It was fun and exciting for the kids.”

Part of the Story Pirates program is the "Idea Storm," a creative writing workshop led by the group’s teaching artists. Students explore the elements of storytelling as they write about and act out the topics that they care about most.

“The curriculum is designed to spark the imaginations of students, to help them give form to their ideas, and to help them think about new ways of telling stories,” said Borsellino.

The Story Pirates told the students that they had great minds and great imaginations that would help them write their stories. The stories were collected by the PRES Reading Committee and submitted to the Story Pirates, who will read every story and write feedback on each and every one.

“The little kindergartners were working really hard on their stories,” Borsellino said. “They were really excited.”

Borsellino also noted that the faculty was engaged in the Story Pirates program as much as the students.

“The faculty loved it,” she said. “One teacher could just not stop laughing. This was one the best assemblies that we’ve had. The kids really wanted to participate and it was really motivating.”

Story Pirates will return to PRES on Thursday, March 1, for the culmination of the program. The group will present its "New Story Show" in the auditorium for the entire student body. It will feature some of the stories written by PRES students and performed by the Story Pirates. They will try to include one story from each grade level in the performance. The children will not know until the day of the performance if their story will be performed.

“The kids won’t know which stories were chosen to be acted out,” Borsellino said. “They won’t realize it until the program starts and they realize, ‘Oh, my God! That’s my story!’”

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