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YSU English Festival marks its 30th year

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Participating children are required to first read seven books on the festival list.

YOUNGSTOWN — Some 3,000 junior and senior high school pupils from around the region will be at Youngstown State University this week to complete in the 30th annual YSU English Festival.

The event runs Wednesday through Friday featuring an array of authors, contests and a special dinner to celebrate three decades of spreading the joy of reading and writing.

This year will feature participants from a record 175 schools in Northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania. They must read seven books on the festival’s book list in order to attend. They will hear lectures from the authors and attend workshops and labs on writing, poetry and journalism.

Since the festival’s founding in 1978 by YSU professors Thomas and Carol Gay in memory of their 13-year-old daughter, Candace McIntyre Gay, nearly 80,000 pupils have attended the annual event.

“Over 30 years, the English Festival has become part of the academic fabric of the community,” said Gary Salvner, festival co-chairman. “It has been recognized near and far as one of the premier literature celebrations in the nation for young adults. We’re looking forward to another 30 years and more.”

A commemorative dinner is set for 7 p.m. Thursday in the DeBartolo Stadium Club in Stambaugh Stadium for the authors, former and current committee and board members and others to help mark the 30th year.

Authors featured at this year’s festival are: Christopher Paul Curtis, winner of both the Newbery Award and the Coretta Scott King Medal. His new book is “Mr. Chickee’s Messy Mission”; Naomi Shihab Nye, award-winning poet, writer, anthologist and educator, who is the author and/or editor of more than 20 books; Joan Bauer, author of eight novels and winner of the Newbery Honor Medal, the LA Times Book Prize, the Christopher Award and the Golden Kite Award of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators; Chris Crutcher, author of nine novels and winner of numerous awards, including Writer Magazine’s 2004 Writers Who Make A Difference Award, the ALA’s 2000 Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award and the NCTE’s 1998 National Intellectual Freedom Award: and Scott Dikkers, comedian, filmmaker and former editor-in-chief of The Onion.

Junior high pupils will attend the festival Wednesday and Thursday, and senior high participants will attend Friday. Activities will last from 9 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. each day at various locations on the YSU campus.