Over the past six years, nearly 100 Scriber Lake High School students have bared their souls through writing, thanks to a one-of-a-kind program spearheaded by teacher Marji Bowker. Each year their stories are collected and published. Their latest book, “This Is A Movement: Owning Our Stories, Writing Our Endings,” is just back from the printer and ready to go on sale.
The book follows previous offerings “We Are Absolutely Not Okay (2012),” “You’ve Got It All Wrong (2013),” “Behind Closed Doors (2014),” “We Hope You Rise Up (2014),” and “I’m Finally Awake (2015).” All of them contain a series of very personal stories written by Scriber students describing growing up while
challenged by gang violence, eating disorders, mental health issues, death, abuse, deportation, drug use and more.
Each book built on the ones that came before, offering a series of intensely individual stories that are providing inspiration for others to own past traumas and move forward.
Six years ago, Bowker co-founded the Scriber Lake Writing Program, whose mission is to foster healing, understanding and literacy through personal storytelling. Over the years, Bowker has become something of a legend to the students whose lives she’s touched.
“Just looking at the book titles traces how far we’ve come over the past six years,” Bowker said. “The first book of stories was a collective cry, saying ‘We are not OK.’ In subsequent years we gained confidence and self-assurance, telling our readers ‘you’ve got it all wrong,’ and ‘I’m finally awake.’ The books have been read and well-received worldwide, gaining additional traction with each edition. Each year we get feedback and praise from readers who have found inspiration and hope in our stories. And this year we can say with confidence that ‘this is a movement.'”
An alternative school within the Edmonds School District, Scriber Lake High School offers an environment and learning experience designed to meet the needs of students who have difficulty succeeding in a traditional school setting. Far from the image some have of it as a “last resort” kind of school, Scriber draws highly talented faculty who are committed to excellence, passionately dedicated to their students, and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure their success.
“When I first came to Scriber, I thought it was kind of like a Denny’s — it’s not a place where you go, it’s a place where you end up,” said student author Shalyn Ensz, who had been through several schools before coming to Scriber. “But was I ever wrong. This school is the best place ever, the teachers are fantastic.”
“This Is a Movement: Owning Our Stories, Writing Our Endings” contains 14 student stories. It will be officially released at a special event to be held at Edmonds’ Cafe Louvre, 210 5th Ave S, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19. Student authors will give readings and be available to sign books. The public is invited.
New this year, anyone purchasing a book will be offered the opportunity to purchase an additional “movement” copy at a reduced price designed to be passed along to others who might enjoy or benefit from the writings.
“Our hope is that ‘movement’ copies will move from person to person,” said Bowker. “We’re asking purchasers to pass the book on to the right person in their lives — a personal friend, a famous person — anyone who should read or would benefit from these stories. We’re asking each person receiving it to record their names in the book and mention it on social media with the #thisisamovement hashtag before passing it on to the next recipient.”
There will also be a special pre-release event at the Sept. 16 Edmonds Saturday Market, where beginning at 9 a.m. students will staff a special table to sell and sign books.
Copies can also be purchased at the Edmonds Bookshop and from online sources. All proceeds go to support future student writing programs.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel