As she walked to the front of a classroom on a recent Friday afternoon, Camila Del Sol was full of energy.
The 12-year-old spoke confidently as she read her poem aloud, From Cuba to America. Her poem was part of a book she and her classmates produced, called ‘Wile’ We Were Growing Up: From the Students at Mater Lakes Middle School, Ms. Kathleen Wile’s Class of 2013-2014.
Yes, the seventh-grader at Mater Academy Lakes Middle School is a published author. In fact, she is one of 18 students who had their work printed in the book.
“I am so proud of them,” said Wile, a language arts teacher who spearheaded the project. “I love my kids; I am so proud that they were able to accomplish this.”
During the celebration, the students received copies of the book from their publisher, Visual Adjectives, and took turns reading their work aloud.
“I was very amazed,” said Camila, about seeing the book for the first time. “I never thought I would actually ever get published.”
The origins of the book stemmed from a homework assignment that Wile gave her advanced sixth grade language arts class, during the 2013-2014 school year. At the time, the class was studying Poe, and were told to write a 16-stanza poem based on the themes of his work.
The students nailed the assignment, and their efforts gave Wile an idea.
“I just thought why not turn these into a book. If we have a company who is going to work with us, why not?” Wile said.
She then pitched the idea to Michelle Lawrence, a publisher at Visual Adjectives, who supported the project.
“It was really fun,” Lawrence said. “They were excited about being published authors.”
Lawrence was on hand Friday to celebrate with the students, and listened to them read their work.
Perhaps the most Poe-like poem read that day was Seleste Arauz’s “My Lovely,” a dark and haunting love story that was inspired by Poe’s poem “The Raven.”
“I just thought of something and put it together,” said Seleste, 12, of Miami Gardens.
Seleste’s reading captivated the room, and won the praises of her classmates.
“They were all really interesting, but for hers, when she first read it aloud, it was super interesting,” said Mariana Pirri, 12, of Hialeah. “We were just like, ‘ahhhh,’ cause we didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Mariana’s reading of her poem, “I Don’t Understand,” had her parents beaming.
“You never look at things from their point of view until you hear moments like this,” Zenaida Pirri, 51, Mariana’s mom said. “Not everybody has this opportunity and just to have all the classmates do it together, it’s a treasure.”
Copies of ‘Wile’ We Were Growing” are available for $7 and can be purchased through www.visualadjectives.com. A portion of the proceeds will go to the school.