Dear Friends of Project Write Now:
This month, we celebrated the power of storytelling at our year-end Writers Celebrations as well as our CringeFest V fundraiser.
At Asbury Park High School and Red Bank Middle School, our yearlong programs culminated with the publication of THREE anthologies of student writing! During our Writers Celebrations at both schools, students read their pieces out loud. There was a lot of cheer and clapping for these writers, who opened up and shared their truths, their hearts, their imaginations, and their dreams with us.
We hope these writers continue to trust their own voices and remember that they have the power to change the world with their words.
Our adult writers too shared personal stories on stage at The Vogel at Count Basie Center for the Arts during our annual CringeFest fundraiser. So many people came together to make this event such a huge success— including local band Kül d’Sack, comedian and co-host Craig Baldo, co-host Kelly Cullen, and our performers: Kathleen McKitty Harris, Shatiera Porte’e, Anndee Hochman, Cynthia Becht, Amy Etra, and Michael Etra.
We are so grateful for all of the performers and for our PWN team, the team at The Vogel at Count Basie Center for the Arts, and all who attended!
We are also grateful to our CringeFest sponsors for their generous donations! All of the proceeds from this event support our community outreach programs, including our yearlong programs at Asbury Park High School and Red Bank Middle School. See our full list of sponsors here.
We would not be able to provide our life-changing programs without YOU! Whether you’ve taken a class, signed your child up for a class, participated in one of our events, or given a generous gift, YOU help us provide meaningful writing experiences that foster authenticity, connection, and empathy.
With love & gratitude,
Asbury Park High School
To culminate our yearlong Spoken Word Project with the creative writing class at Asbury Park High School, we published an anthology of student writing, Let Us Share: The Book of Bishops’ Soulful Poetry, as well as hosted a Writers Celebration. Students, staff, and special guests gathered on the lawn in front of the school to share their work and words with all in attendance. We are so grateful for this program and we are already looking forward to next year!
Big Brothers Big Sisters
This month we hosted storytelling workshops at Asbury Park High School and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Upper Elementary School for mentors and mentees in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. After a “word association” warm-up, we had pairs of mentors and mentees select cards with prompts such as “firsts,” “traditions,” and “lessons.” After a few minutes of brainstorming, the mentors and mentees wrote stories based on the prompts. We loved using storytelling to further build the relationships between mentors and mentees.
On Fridays, we host a one-hour writing workshop on Zoom during which we write in response to themed writing prompts. This month, we explored the themes—“Cinco de Mayo” and “Rush.” Though writers never have to share, we always enjoy hearing one another’s pieces and have formed an incredible, supportive community. Join us for our next Lunchtime Write-In to see what our upcoming themes will be!
Red Bank Middle School
- 7th & 8th Grade AVID
This month, we celebrated the 7th and 8th grade AVID classes with live readings from their newly PUBLISHED anthologies! We concluded our yearlong program with a two-day Writers Celebration during which each young writer took their book to the podium and proudly shared deep sentiments of warm reflection, introspection, and wild imagination. These words have been honed all year and we were so thrilled to see the students light up when they held their printed publications. It has been such an honor and a privilege to work alongside these classes. From the 8th grade class that’s unafraid to take that next step to the 7th grade class that wins “Most Enthusiastic Good Mornings,” these are not just classes, they are communities. And we are so glad to be a part of them. We hope these writers continue to meet change head on, that they trust their own voices and know when and how to use them. That they remember that they have the power to change the world. And we can’t wait to see them do it.
- PWN Writing Club: 4th & 5th
We finished strong with our PWN Writing Club and were excited to hear feedback from the students. One student is now working on a book to be published because he was inspired by Project Write Now and the writing program! Another student wrote a thank you note expressing that she now feels confident to write in English because of the writing club! All good stuff from the 4th and 5th graders!
- PWN Quest Club: 6-8th
This month our PWN Quest Club at RBMS included writing, art, and performing arts! Our writers started off with question “brain dumps” during which students wrote out any questions they had and placed them in the Quest Box. We then sat in our Writers Circle and everyone picked a Quest question to ask and discuss with the group. We printed our birthday Quest story for everyone so we could read the story together, add to it, and draw pictures to accompany the story. The students then acted out the story with one another and put on a performance! We ended our last Quest Club with hair mustaches and Speed Writing Trivia! We also got to celebrate one of our eighth grade writers who will be entering high school in the fall and had been accepted into the Creative Writing Academy at RBR. Let’s celebrate another amazing Quest Club! This is one for the books!
Red Bank Public Library
This month with the Red Bank Public Library, we wrote about observations. We asked ourselves what we noticed during the exquisite spring day. We read a short essay by Ginny MacDonald, “Trout Lilies.” In this essay, MacDonald writes about the passing of her friend and her observations in nature. Traveling with her, we learn of all the plants her friend taught her the names of, and now she teaches this friend’s children. We then wrote to the prompt, “Is there someone whom you miss when the weather is sunny and the wind just right?” We also wrote about emotions—naming them, diving into the feelings, exploring which ones were hardest to write about and which were less threatening. We read a brief essay by Caitlin Horrocks called “The Mansion Game.” Then we personified ourselves as houses—asking ourselves what type of house would we be, what would people see passing by, what is on the inside that they don’t see?
Shore House (Long Branch)
Our mentee Tina ran the class at Shore House again this month, this time focusing on HOPE. She talked about what hope means to her and then asked us to write about what makes us hopeful. One member shared a gorgeous tribute to his sister, another wrote a vivid poem about the cycles of nature, and almost every member mentioned the writing group itself or Shore House as a whole as a symbol of hope. Then Tina invited us to draw what hope looks like to us. She ended the class by reading the poem “Hope Is the Thing With Feathers” by Emily Dickinson. We continue to be so proud of and inspired by Tina—SHE gives us HOPE, as well as all of the Shore House members!
Write Out Loud
We had another great night at the Asbury Book Cooperative for Write Out Loud this month! We celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by reading “Summer” by Chen Chen and using lines from the poem as writing prompts. We then went around sharing both what we just wrote and any outside works we brought in for the open mic. We’re so grateful to all who came, wrote, and shared with us!
Through our mission as a nonprofit organization, we remove barriers to participating in our fee-based classes by providing full and partial scholarship seats as well as payment plans. Since 2020, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the need for financial assistance and therefore have met that need by offering more scholarship seats. For 2023, we’ve already awarded 28 seats totaling $11,425. For information about our scholarship program or to become a valuable donor providing these seats, please email Jennifer Chauhan at email@example.com.