On Monday, March 16, students, volunteers, and staff came together in the 826 Valencia Writing Lab to celebrate the release of the first chapbook to come out of the brand new Writers’ Room at Mission High: It’s Not a Secret. The chapbook is an inspiring collection of personal history essays written by eleventh- and twelfth-grade English Learners in Mr. Scott’s classes.
“Darkness is the absence of light. That’s how I began learning about light. ‘Light’ is the meaning of my name. Nour is my name. My family agreed to name me Nour because they wanted me to be Nour, regardless of where I lived.”
—excerpted from “Plant” by Nour Bouhassoun
It’s Not a Secret portrays students’ reflections regarding their own personal identity, their cultural identity, and the etymology of their names.The collection also emphasizes the importance of remembering shared family stories, and asks the reader to question how the concept of “home” informs our world.
The intimate gathering began with a live music performance, welcoming remarks from Mission High’s Principal Guthertz, and a brief presentation from design volunteer extraordinaire Tim R., who explained the concept behind the book’s design motif. The cover and illustrations throughout feature different flowers representing each student’s country of origin. Students then took the opportunity to share some words with the crowd in both their native language and in English. Several students then read excerpts from their essays, filling the room with warmth as the inspiring tales unfolded one by one. Their stories told of nostalgia, upheaval, persistence, and hope.
Laughter and words of support filled the air following the live readings as students happily signed autographs for their peers and fans. After all, this was a room filled with newly published authors—what an opportunity!
Thank you to the students, Mr. Scott, Mr. Guthertz, and our volunteers for helping us to commemorate the stories of these amazing young authors!