Edmonds Scriber Lake students to read from newest book in Seattle

By Kate Agbayani | Jun 26, 2019
Courtesy of: Marjie Bowker From left: Yahaira Souza, Stephanie Souza, and Emily Yalowitz are among the Scriber Lake students who wrote and shared stories.

Students from Scriber Lake High School shared their stories for the seventh consecutive year, in their new book titled “Listen: Young Writers Reflect on Chaos, Clarity, Action, Balance.”

The book features 10 stories from 10 students at Scriber Lake.

The stories describe the challenges each of the students has faced in their personal lives. Some of the topics covered in the book are anxiety, failure, addiction, sexual abuse, and even suicide.

The students will have a reading of their book – which was released earlier this year – Sunday, June 30, at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, starting at 3 p.m.

The students were able to write about their experiences through the writing program at the school led by English teacher Marjie Bowker.

At first, Bowker said she struggled to connect to her students. She found that her curriculum didn’t resonate with many of them.

However, she soon found that students became more responsive when they were able to write about their personal stories. Through these stories, Bowker was able to see a glimpse of her students’ lives, along with their trauma.

“Storytelling was the entry way to get them to write,” said Bowker. “Writing allowed them to leave their trauma behind and get an objective view of their experiences. It felt like I was teaching with a purpose.”

The first book, titled “We Are Absolutely Not Okay,” was published in 2012 through the school’s own publishing company, Steep Stairs Press, which was also created in the same year.

Since then, the school has been publishing books every year. All the stories are written by students at the school.

While all the books deals with heavy topics, Bowker ensures that students must first be in a safe place of their lives. She always tries to make sure that students are able to share their stories from a healthy place rather than a destructive one.

In the seventh book, Bowker wanted to emphasize the idea of personal reflection and healing.

During the writing process, Bowker gave prompts to the student that asked them to consider the chaos, clarity, action, and balance in their experiences.

Of course, it wasn’t an easy task to accomplish for the young writers.

Freshman Stephanie Souza, who is contributing to the next in the series of books, said she struggled to think back to a time in her life that caused her pain.

“It was hard for me, because it gave me flashbacks to when I was bullied,” she said.

“But knowing that I’m in a safer place helped, and sharing it would help other kids too.”

Her older sister, Yahaira Souza, who is in her junior year, is also writing for the next book. For her, writing helped her overcome the difficulties in her life.

“I want to inspire others,” she said. “I want others to get a glimpse of what it’s like to live that way and show that it’s not something we can control.”

Through Bowker’s class, many students have found ways to cope with trauma that would have otherwise been hard to deal with in their everyday lives.

Sophomore Emily Yalowitz, who wrote for the current book, expressed that her desire to write came from being in Bowker’s English class.

“I’ve never gotten into writing until that class,” said Yalowitz.

Writing has helped her overcome parts of her trauma. Although she still faces the effects of her trauma, like the Souza sisters, it has not stopped her from sharing her story.

“I want them to not feel alone,” Yalowitz said. “I want to help them and inspire them to write stuff of their own.”

The three young writers all hope that their stories can help those who may be going through the same experiences.

“I want them to know that they’re not alone,” Stephanie Souza said. “They just have to speak up a bit louder for people to hear them.”

The book will be sold for $15. They can be purchased online through Amazon.com and Edmondsbookshop.indielite.org, or in-store at Edmonds Bookshop.

Books will also be sold the day of the event.

Bowker saw how great the response was from the community and her students through the publication of these books.

She feels great pride in her students and their ability to share something so personal to the world.

“I have the ultimate respect for how brave they are,” Bowker said.

“I didn’t have the same experiences as them, but I see the transformation it has for everyone. Every single journey is different, but it can touch somebody. I don’t think I can be a teacher at Scriber and not do this.”




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