Woodbridge and Stonewall Jackson High School students dig deep to write their stories
Posted on 05/24/2019
The Origin ProjectThis year, students from both Stonewall Jackson (SJHS) and Woodbridge (WHS) High Schools participated in The Origin Project. This year-long project culminated with the students’ written stories, essays, and poems included in the publication of the book “The Origin Project: Book Five.” The students received copies of the book at an event held at SJHS on Tuesday, May 21. These students are a part of the 1,500 students in grades 2 – 12, from 17 schools across Virginia who participated in and contributed to The Origin Project this year.

In the fall, Linda Woodward, manager of The Origin Project, and Nancy Bolmeier Fisher, co-founder and executive director of The Origin Project, visited the students at both schools to help them kick off their work on the Origin Project. Woodward and Fisher encouraged the students to be authentic and genuine, and to write about what is important to each of them. They helped the students to find their story to share, whether it was a photograph, a painting, a family recipe, a holiday tradition, etc.; encouraging them to tell an authentic and meaningful story.

Fisher said to the students, “This experience makes me so thankful that you are able to share things about your life.” She acknowledges that sharing family stories can evoke emotions that are powerful and challenging – especially for young adults.

The unveiling event for the presentation of book five was filled with music, recitations by students, and the presentation of the published book to each student. During the event, Senator Tim Kaine Skyped in to speak with the students. He has been a supporter of this program from the very beginning. He listened to recitations from two students, Zahra Wakilzada from SJHS, who read “My Beautiful Afghanistan” and Leah Ican from WHS, who read “That Which We Call Rose.” He commented on how the stories these two students shared are not only important to their origin story of who they are, but to current events regarding race and religion.

Kaine told the students and audience assembled, “This is a very important project to me. Writing and clearly communicating will help you in life, and every person has an important story to tell. Your story is of interest to others. The diversity of Virginia is so vast. It helps to build a community of understanding and respect, and we all need to learn more about each other. The Origin Project helps us to do all of that.”

Adriana Trigiani, the co-founder of The Origin Project and New York Times best-selling author, joined the students and audience via Skype as well during the event. She was enthusiastic when speaking to the students as newly minted authors, and she encouraged them to continue to write throughout their lives and careers.

Jessica Sebenaler, a creative writing student from WHS, spoke about the process of The Origin Project and what it means to her and many of her classmates. “If there was any one word to describe The Origin Project, it would be introspection. What makes The Origin Project so significant is that throughout the process of it, you realize writing about your own origin cultivates and inspires the idea that my presence and who I am matters and has a true effect on everyone else in the most complex ways in this world, no matter how big or small I am to others.”

The look of pride and excitement on the faces of the students, holding their books, and realizing that they are published authors was a high point of the event. Helping our students discover who they are while becoming published authors is Positively PWCS.