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Ancient Mediterranean Tales by Grace Academy 7th Grade

The 7th-grade authors are now in Mr. Straka's 8th grade Medieval History class.

The 7th-grade authors are now in Mr. Straka’s 8th grade Medieval History class.

Teacher/editor Ed Straka holds up his cover art.

Teacher/editor Ed Straka holds up his cover art.

Herein lie the tales of the warrior cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world…

Many writers set a life goal to have a book published. Students at Grace Academy in Georgetown have already accomplished said goal and they are not even in high school yet.

Last year, Ed Straka’s 7th grade Ancient History class studied the era and cultures of Ancient Greece and Rome.

In addition to reading about it, they did a great deal of independent research, and each student wrote a fictional short story related to a different non-fiction facet of the time period. Mr. Straka compiled the stories and created a “real life book” that is now available to the public on Amazon.

“I needed to motivate the kids to buy into a writing project. One that would allow them to work with what they had learned in history, as well as get their creative juices flowing for literature. I did not want to have them use the usual formulaic method of writing. They are so used to that in their language classes that they can sometimes be against a project before they even know what it is.”

Straka says the kids’ initial response was iffy, but after a follow-up bribe that included not only the published book, but a pizza party, they bought in completely and even decided on the name “Silent Fools Productions” for their publishing company.

They provided rewrites, edited and reviewed each others’ works, and got the book up for sale by mid-May of this year.

The kids used people they know as models for their fictional historical characters, including each other and their teacher.

One of Straka's philosophies.

One of Straka’s philosophies.

Avery, one of the contributors, explained, “I really surprised myself. I didn’t think I would be able to create something interesting. Most of my writing assignments were basically parroting things from my history books. But I got to integrate the information and come up with my own story line.”

Kristen said, “It was overwhelming at first, but after we started we writing it, I felt more confident.”

Thanks to on-demand printing, interested customers can click to order a translation of the book in nearly any language.

Benjamin said, “It was really stressful when we were doing it but now it feels so rewarding to see the finished product.”

I am excited that part of a book that I wrote actually got published.

Nathan, who was the inspiration for the next class project, said, “It really shows the uniqueness of each student; keeps it fun and interesting and represents us all so well.”

Susanna focused on the diversity of the subjects; “Some wrote about great battles, some characters died, escaped, family life, we covered everything.”

Christine loved modeling characters after people she knew. She used several “Straka-isms” to illustrate one of her main characters.

Many students already write for pleasure or as a hobby. Some realized from this project that writing is not going to be their thing, but those who have an affinity for it are that much more engaged in it as a result.

Asked whether it changed any of the students’ opinion about being a writer, Nathan said, “I don’t consider myself a writer, but this definitely showed me the attraction of it. How you put yourself on paper and show yourself as an artist with words as your art form. This is really fascinating and interesting to do.”

Straka says his goal was to show the students that through hard-work, follow through, and group effort they could do anything as long as they are willing to pay the price.

Coincidentally, as if to punctuate his point, the Latin text painted on the wall of Straka’s classroom says, Life gives nothing to us without tremendous work and sacrifice. One who suffers also conquers.

Next up for Silent Fools is a collaboration with the Science Department to work on a concept for “No Muss Mousse” by Spring 2017.

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