Scriber Lake HS students move a packed house to tears at book-signing event

Many of the authors choked up during their readings. Jaycee Schrenk takes a moment to wipe a tear before continuing.

Many of the authors choked up during their readings.  Tatam Walker takes a moment to wipe a tear before continuing.

It was standing room only at Edmonds’ Cafe Louvre coffee shop on Tuesday evening for a very special book signing and reading that left many reaching for their handkerchiefs.

“Behind Closed Doors: Stories From the Inside Out,” a collection of deeply personal narratives, is the result of months of work by a group of Scriber Lake students under the direction of English teacher Marjie Bowker, an 18-year veteran of the Edmonds School District.

The book’s forward sums it up: “We have come together as writers — some facing our lives for the first time on paper — to open the doors of our souls. We have traveled back into the darkness through hospital doors, closet doors and prison doors, through doors of the heart and the mind, to remember the details of the people and events that have changed us.”

“This is definitely not your typical creative writing class,” says Bowker. “These are deeply personal stories where the authors explore the people, places and things, that have shaped their lives.”

Bowker has been spearheading this innovative program at Scriber Lake since 2011. The current work joins “We Are Absolutely Not Okay,” and “You’ve Got It All Wrong,” products of the two previous Scriber writing groups.

“Key to the success of this program is the invaluable help and inspiration we receive from Ingrid Ricks,” says Bowker. Ricks, author the New York Times Best Seller coming-of-age memoir “Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story,” has collaborated with Bowker from the beginning, and takes an active role in the class.

Teacher Marjie Bowker joins author and class mentor Ingrid Ricks to introduce  Marilyn Roth, widow of James "Rock" Roth to whom the book is dedicated.  Rock, a member of the Edmonds Daybreakers Rotary Club, had volunteered at Scriber Lake School for many years, and had provided tremendous support to the transformational writing program.

Teacher Marjie Bowker joins author and class mentor Ingrid Ricks to introduce Marilyn Roth, widow of James “Rock” Roth to whom the book is dedicated. Rock, a member of the Edmonds Daybreakers Rotary Club, had volunteered at Scriber Lake School for many years, and had provided tremendous support to the transformational writing program.

“I always knew what happened, but I didn’t find the power behind the story until I actually wrote it down,” says Ricks of the memoir of her rough teenage years. “I feel incredibly privileged to be working with these amazing young people to help them find the power of their stories.”

The young authors have clearly been transformed. After reading excerpts from their stories, they shared some of their experiences as they wrote, re-wrote, and edited their works until they were ready for publication.

Here are some of their comments:

“The writing process is a way to get everything out.” — Destanee Stock

“To get it all down, we had to re-live the past. It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done.” — Maize Phillips

“This program has lifted so much off my shoulders.” — Robert Jeffreys

“If you have something to say, you need to say it. Keeping it inside only hurts worse.” Jaycee Schrenk

“Behind Closed Doors: Stories From The Inside Out” is available at the Edmonds Bookshop, 111 Main Street.

– Story and photos by Larry Vogel

Shelby Asbury reads from her narrative titled "Good Intentions, Bad Results."

Shelby Asbury reads from her narrative titled “Good Intentions, Bad Results.”

Some were overcome as they read their stories.  Brieaunna Dacruz had to stop reading to sit down and collect herself.  Later she took the mike and completed her reading.

Some were overcome as they read their stories. Brieaunna Dacruz had to stop reading to sit down and collect herself. Later she took the mic and completed her reading.

Scriber Lake Principal Kathy Clift began the program by introducing the students and teachers. She pointed out that although Scriber is known as an alternative school because it specializes in serving students who don’t do well in a traditional high school environment, Scriber students "have to meet the same state education requirements and earn the same diploma as students who attend any other Edmonds School District high school."

Scriber Lake Principal Kathy Clift began the program by introducing the students and teachers. She pointed out that although Scriber is known as an alternative school because it specializes in serving students who don’t do well in a traditional high school environment, Scriber students “have to meet the same state education requirements and earn the same diploma as students who attend any other Edmonds School District high school.”

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2 Comments

  1. Larry Vogel’s summary(above) of the Book signing at the Cafe Louvre is wonderful. i was there. Its all true. Especially during the question and answer period. The students were so thoughtful, so articulate, so courageous and so clear headed. You couldn’t help but be proud of them. All I would add is that this writing program is crucial to teenagers transiting the rough waters to adulthood. Additionally, parents need to read the hard stories in this book. The stories will help parents help their children to the life we all want for them. This book is a must read. Finally, this program needs funding. Please contact Scriber Lake High School (425) 431-7270 and find out how you can support this vital program.

    • I could not agree more with George Murray. I was a teacher at Scriber Lake HS, working in the Options program. This was a program designed to help students who were barely hanging on to an education for themselves. When the district cut the program during the 2007 + plus recession, Options was shut down. I wondered where all these seriously at-risk kids would go, as they were certainly not going away.

      Knowing the Scriber staff as I do, after first interacting with this program way back in 1992, I knew that a new program would emerge to reach these terribly disaffected youth. Such students have not been forgotten, or ignored. Many are assisted through the STEP program, and continue to make better choices in their lives. Not every student who attends SLHS has horrific stories to tell, but most have been let down by the very people who were entrusted to their care. There are also those who cannot function in the current comprehensive high school, with 1000 plus students. This school has about 200-250 students, so the class ratio is much smaller. This staff, most of whom have taught here for decades, are incredibly devoted. Scriber Lake High school rocks!

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