YSU 3,000 pupils taking part in English Festival
A new initiative aims to increase participants from urban schools.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Nearly 3,000 pupils from 165 middle and high schools are converging on Youngstown State University this week for the 26th annual English Festival.
Though most of the pupils come from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in Ohio and Butler and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania, some will be traveling from as far away as South Carolina for the nationally known reading festival.
"Since last year, the English Festival experienced an explosion of interest. All year long, I have received e-mails from students who have expressed excitement about the festival," said Gary Salvner, professor of English and festival co-chairman.
More than 175 sessions have been scheduled for pupils during the three-day festival, which started Wednesday. Pupils also are competing in writing contests to vie for prizes totaling $15,000.
A new facet of this year's festival is the Urban Initiative. Funded through a grant from the Raymond John Wean Foundation, the goal of this initiative is to help boost the number of pupils who participate in the festival from urban schools.
Funds provided registration fees for up to 505 pupils in the Youngstown and Warren city schools, as well as five sets of books to each city's middle, junior high and high school.
Also new to the festival this year is the "Wallpaper Project," a dramatic presentation on Ohio and Mahoning Valley history presented by students from Campbell Memorial and Warren G. Harding high schools.
William Mollineaux serves as the event's guest lecturer. Mollineaux is a retired middle school teacher from Connecticut and a past president of the Adolescent Literature Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English.
Also featured is New York Times list best-selling author Joan Bauer, winner of several awards, including the 2001 Newbery Honor Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Christopher Award and the Golden Kite Award of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Isaiah Jackson, the music director and conductor of the Youngstown Symphony, Tony Armeni of the YSU art department and John Turk of the Dana School of Music also are giving presentations.