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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Students write of diversity, tolerance

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

St. Mary's teens set to publish a second volume.

Traditional way to learn: Students read textbooks.

New way: Students write their own books.

Take a lesson from St. Mary's, a small Catholic school with about 115 students in grades 7-12.

Teen-agers there wrote "Silent Voices: A Teen-age Perspective on Values'' to show other students the importance of tolerance, character and diversity.

Already, the book is a hit. The school and three local stores are nearly sold out, although copies can still be ordered and a second printing is possible. The project has been so successful that a second book is being written for publication around April, and more are likely for future years.

"Silent Voices" includes painful recounts of children who tease and have been teased, who have considered committing suicide or struggled with racism.

Other pieces are uplifting poems encouraging others to respect everyone, talk to God and become leaders.

The book is one of the first published by the Greater American and International Student Writers' Guild, a nonprofit organization founded to publish what guild chairman Gregory Hilbert calls "children's wisdom.''

The guild encourages teachers to start student-written projects, then helps them publish the books. They have 50 projects in the works, and expect to publish at least 30 this year.

St. Mary's was one of the first. Ryan Berg, a 26-year-old English and religion teacher at St. Mary's, started "Silent Voices'' last spring because he believes students should learn from real-life experiences.

"Mr. Berg's the teacher everybody loves,'' says sophomore Maddie Rust. "He makes us think.''

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