Scriber Lake HS writers to sign book at Edmonds’ Revelations Yogurt Wednesday

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By Janette Turner

“Close your eyes, Kayla,” a mother says to her 9-year-old daughter, while holding back the knife in her husband’s hand. This story of violence is not fiction; it’s one of 14 eye-opening narratives by Scriber Lake High School students in their new book, ‘We Are Absolutely Not Okay: Fourteen Stories By Teenagers Who Are Picking Up the Pieces.’ The student writers will be at Revelations Yogurt on June 6, from 5-7 p.m., to sign their book, alongside their editors, instructor Marjie Bowker and author Ingrid Ricks.

Picking up the pieces is what these kids do, from a father’s alcoholic rage on New Year’s Eve, a “tweaker” dad’s eight-ball meth high, and a mother ‘s slide into gambling and addiction. But trouble doesn’t just rain down from parents; it also comes via peers. In “Run Up or Shut Up,” 12-year-old Fabian Vazquez makes sure to get the purse and cell phone from a woman stepping out of her luxury car, while worrying he might accidentally blow off her head with the .22 in his hands during a gang venture.

The Scriber Lake book began in November, when author Ricks was contacted by Bowker, an English teacher at the Edmonds-based alternative high school . As Ricks explained recently: “(Marjie) had been given a copy of my new coming-of-age memoir, ‘Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story.’ She felt my story would be a perfect fit for her students and asked if I wanted to form an author partnership. I jumped at the opportunity…to help them claim their power and find their voice.”

Finding her voice, Lauren Nein, a student who wrote about her father’s depression and her own attempt at suicide at age 12, wants My Edmonds News readers to know more about Scriber Lake. “(Scriber is) not what you think it is,” she said recently in an email interview, “and it’s not what you’ve heard. When I was first told I needed to attend Scriber, I did not want to go. I thought it was a school of druggies and thugs, but I was incredibly wrong. It’s an amazing school with amazing teachers who made my graduation in the next few weeks possible!”

Fellow student Neil Tingley seconds that Scriber is a very “stereotyped place.” He says some students have the potential to “surpass Martin Luther King’s charisma, to surpass Beethoven’s wisdom in music, and to achieve things greater than the known human limits.”

When asked whether the editors worried about the book causing more pain with its revelations of addiction, suicidal thoughts, sex and crime, Ricks replied: “Marjie and I talked with the students in-depth about putting their stories into the universe, and the criticism that comes from writing honestly and sharing personal stories. We also encouraged the use of pen names in cases where we felt it was necessary to protect the student’s identity. These students, many of them graduating seniors, are some of the most self-actualized people I’ve ever met. They have claimed their power around their most challenging personal experiences and are now committed to raising awareness about the serious challenges teens face and starting a dialogue that will help other teens.”

Fortunately every story comes with a happy ending. Vasquez is now a 4.0 junior at Scriber Lake High School, and holds the record of 1,001 sit-ups performed in a single session. Stephanie Tangedahl – the girl with the meth-addicted father – plans to become a dental hygienist and, in her words, “make a difference in peoples’ mouths.” To find out what happens to Kayla, you need to read the book.

9 COMMENTS

  1. You have to know them to know their strength. We’re so lucky to be able to work with such fabulous students every day. And there are so many more of strong students here at SLHS.

  2. It is incredibly exciting and inspiring what magic has happened, and continues to happen, at Scriber.
    Marjie, Ingrid, Chris, Cathy and all you other adults and most importantly, the Scriber students, are making a terrific mark in this world.
    I commend you for all the time, energy and love that was put into this project and all the other cool things that you do. Joan Jett knew she was going somewhere special when she chose Scriber to visit! Can’t wait to read the stories and be at the book signing tomorrow night.

  3. Thank you, Janette, for spotlighting this amazing book and the students behind them.

    Teaming with Marjie to help Scriber students claim their power by finding their voice and sharing their stories is by far the most rewarding work I have ever done Jaci, thank you for your kind words. I’ve heard amazing things about the Joan Jett experience..

  4. As a former Scriber Lake student, graduate and college student, I cannot even put into words how excited I am to read this book and how proud I am to come from a school that gives their students more than just an education but an experience and a chance.

  5. Ingrid and everyone else involved in this powerful project~absolutely amazing, all around! Huge congratulations!

  6. Janette- thank you for this great story!

    Mindy – wouldn’t it be great to start a “dialogue” of stories and poems between our kids?

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