Devon Middle School students honoured for creative writing at local art gallery

Article Posted: Friday, December 21, 2018

Grade 6 students at Devon Middle School were recently honoured for their creative writing skills as part of the Writing on the Walls program, a partnership between the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and Fredericton's literary festival, Word Feast. 

Camryn Brennan had the winning entry, capturing first place, followed by Libby Waugh in second place, while Owen McLaggan and Gabrielle Burgess-Gallant tied for third. A total of 144 student entries were submitted.

"We had short stories, some emotional responses to the artwork, some beautiful free verse and rhyming poetry, a little nonsense – a few students even did some research and wrote about the artists themselves," said Zach Hapeman, director of children's programming for the Word Feast Literary Festival. "The writing was very good – a credit to the teachers and staff and their wonderfully creative students."

Hapeman said the festival's committee shortlisted the entries and local author and the Beaverbrook’s current Artist-in-Residence Wendy McLeod-MacKnight of Fredericton selected the four finalists who were invited to read during the opening of the art gallery exhibit on Dec. 9.​

The goal of the Writing on the Walls program is to support the development of student literacy skills through creative writing and an increased exposure to fine art. The program combines student compositions (prose and poetry) with artwork that inspired the writing in a special exhibit at the gallery.

The gallery provided images of 10 pieces of artwork from its permanent collection. Each student among participating classrooms choose one of these pieces and created a written response. Student writings could be in the form of a poem, a short essay, or a piece of fiction (up to 400 words for prose submissions, or up to 30 lines for poetry). Student submissions were reviewed by the Word Feast Festival committee and shortlisted for a prize. Student submissions were then incorporated into a “Writing on the Walls” exhibit hosted at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

Teachers Shawna Bryden and Colleen Kennedy introduced the program to their students the first week of October. Students were provided access to the works of art (via gallery handouts) and class time was reserved to enable students to develop and revise their creative responses. The deadline for submissions was the end of October. Students were encouraged to submit as many responses as they liked, although first draft materials were not accepted. Teachers were encouraged to emphasize the value of a disciplined writing process, having students review and revise their compositions multiple times.

The Writing on the Walls exhibit of student compositions will run from December through January at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. Students (and classes and families) are encouraged to visit the gallery to view the collected works and experience art-inspiring-art first hand, Hapeman said.

Shown in the photos below are local author Wendy McLeod-McKnight with third place finalist Owen McLaggan (1); Camryn Brennan, first place winner (2); Libby Waugh, second place winner (3); and third place finalist Gabrielle Burgess-Gallant with McLeod-McKnight(4).