“Our students have remained positive, curious, and open to new adventures — including penning their own professionally published stories — during this time,” shared Rachelle Minix, School Leader at KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy.
Three of our KIPPsters from KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy (KAPA) — Vanessa Banks, Yailin Dircio, and Breanna Munguia — have ignited their imagination and jump-started their professional writing career by co-authoring and publishing their first book — Un-Mutable.
“The student authors participated in a rigorous 12-week virtual PHABB 5 writer’s workshop,” explained Minix. PHABB 5, a nonprofit organization and partner, has established a free comprehensive book publishing program at KAPA to help “students graduate with their diploma in one hand and their published literary work in the other.” Minix added, “our students were challenged with creating a short story that captured their inner-thoughts about the 2020 pandemic thus, Un-Mutable was born.”
Especially during a worldwide pandemic, creative writing has been a great outlet for our KIPPsters to express themselves, deepen community, broaden their thought processes, increase empathy, along with other valuable benefits that have helped build their confidence to take beyond the classroom.
“In our 8 years of working with many, including adults and college students, these kids are three of the most tenacious, emotionally disciplined people I’ve worked with,” expressed CJ Miller, Founder and President of PHABB 5, who finds that “writing is CPR for the soul.” Minix shared that the students “were committed to their weekly Zoom tutorials where they learned new techniques for writing, and received and responded excitedly to feedback.”
On their creative writing journey, Vanessa B., Yailin D., and Breanna M. discovered how to take their writing from concept to book signing with powerful storytelling techniques that include memorable narrative arcs, compelling and empowering characters, while experimenting with their voice through their own original work. Not to mention, students also learned how to brand and market, and plan their own community-based book signing event.
Their stories strive to entertain, to move, to inspire, and “to be heard over the noise!”
FLY by Vanessa B., 8th grader at KIPP Adelante:
“When I created my character, I named her ‘Mariposa,’” which translates to butterfly. “I created her identity to mirror mine because I have felt the confusion of navigating the duality of identity as a mixed person — as a Black Latina — who I have never seen represented in books, in movies, or in stores,” said Vanessa B. “I used this experience of writing my book and my character to explore my own identity through her and to give her the voice and power that I feel and want to represent as I fight for my community.”
DREAM by Yailin D., 6th grader at KIPP Adelante:
Yailin is a first-generation student that mentioned, “this experience definitely improved my writing! I wanted to craft a character who would encounter a problem through a circumstance or person. Overall, my story is about being heard! My parents are so proud that I wrote a book — and that makes me really happy.”
THE MOVEMENT by Breanna M., 8th grader at KIPP Adelante:
“This experience of writing my book, helped me understand the things that are going on in the world,” stated Breanna M. “My character is trying to make a change in her community. People treat her differently, but she’s working to change that while also fighting for others!”
“When given an opportunity to think, to explore, to speak, to write — it's amazing what our kids will say and do and create,” said Minix.
Creative writing can provide the space to not only identify alternative stories but to challenge misconceptions and explore what information one carries within them. Certainly, students can carry multiple stories at once and our KAPA students experienced how to express those through writing. “Give it a try; it may be hard at first but you can do it. Just try your best,” shared 6th grader Yailin D.
“These young women are inspirational in their discerning perspectives on the world, their utter fearlessness and unrelenting passion to tackle new and known challenges, and their abundant kindness and love for fellow humans,” said Minix. KIPP SoCal is proud of our brilliant change agents "as they add 'author' to the list of the many and growing accomplishments. ... I hope they continue to use their voice to speak truth, harness their power, and ensure that they will never be spoken over or for by others,” added Minix. Importantly, don't lose sight of how fun it is to be creative. ¡Siempre Adelante! What’s your story?
We are so proud of our three KIPP Adelante authors Vanessa B.,Yailin D., Breanna M., who published their book "Un-Mutable" through PHABB5.org. On March 13th, our student authors also organized a virtual book signing event to connect with community members. And, we are so grateful to CJ Miller of PHABB5.org for helping put together that fantastic celebration of our student authors! We heard from CA Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Weber, CA Assemblymember Mike Gipson, and San Diego Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe who were all so encouraging of our students owning and telling their stories. The true highlight of the day, of course, was hearing from our amazing student authors who shared some excerpts from their published stories.
"Thank you for supporting California student authors and for making the time to read each story our kids put their hearts into. This work was made possible by the generous support of Councilwoman Michelle Chambers, the office of Assemblymember Mike Gipson, and the California State Librarian’s office," said Rachelle Minix