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A half-dozen Woodburn High School Students are among those to be published in this year's Writers in the Schools Literary Arts Anthology

COURTESY PHOTO: WOODBURN SCHOOL DISTRICT - WeBSS student Jazerei Lei Pajela gives a thumbs up after seeing her story, A Cry to the Moon, highlighted on the Literary Arts website.Six Woodburn High School students were notified recently that their creative writings will be featured in this year's Writers in the Schools Literary Arts Anthology.

Four of the students — Neyda Segura, Nate Babwah, Jazerei Lei Pajela and Marbella Reyes — are from Woodburn's Wellness, Business and Sports School (WeBSS), while two — Anahi Solano and Jose Solis-Gomez — study in the Woodburn Academy of Art, Science & Technology (WAAST).

Olivia Jones-Hall, the interim director of the Literary Arts program in Portland, which orchestrates Writers in the Schools (WITS), notified the school district of the publication. She also said two of the students, Bobwah and Solis-Gomez, will be reading on stage at the festival for the anthology launch scheduled for Nov. 13.

"I am currently working with our marketing team to prepare some promotional deliverables to all of our school partners for the Portland Book Festival, happening virtually from Nov. 8-12, and in-person Nov. 13," Jones-Hall said in an email to WeBSS Language Arts teacher Charles Sanderson. "It will be a bit smaller this year, but we still have wonderful programming for youth and adults."

Sanderson said the WeBSS students worked with the writer CJ Wiggan, a WITS apprentice this fall who is described in a profile as "a Nebraskan writer and illustrator creating emotional artwork about gender, relationships, magic, nature and hair."

The students were overjoyed about the opportunity to share their work.

"To be honest, I never would have expected my work to be published onto a book. But when I heard that the work I submitted had been chosen, I was filled with an overpowered joy and feeling of accomplishment," Segura said. "I was the happiest I had been in a while, and it meant even more to me because when I first started poetry I never thought about it as a way to get published or even get credit. Instead it was a way to express myself to others in ways I knew many people related to.

"So, I am proud of who I've become and how my work has grown over the years, and I am glad that people might read my work and know they are not alone in whatever they are going through," Segura added.

Reyes expressed both joy and gratitude.

"To begin with, I would like to give a huge thanks to my teacher, Mr. Sanderson, not only for helping me get published but for always being there when I need him," Reyes said. "If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be where I am right now.

"I would also like to say a few words about me being published and that is that," Reyes added. "I never imagined having my words be put out there. I'm very proud of myself. I've come a long way to be here, and I put my all in my work — thank you so much."

Solis-Gomez was delighted that his thoughts developed over a trying year would find their way to print.

"It was a long and boring year, and with a lot of free time it gets a person thinking about many things," Solis-Gomez said. "I just wrote a short story of some of these thoughts, and hoped it would get some recognition, so this is a very exciting moment for me -- quite unexpected as well."


Local writers

A list of Woodburn High School students, their schools, and the title of their pieces published in the Writers in the Schools Literary Arts Anthology:

Neyda Segura, WeBSS, "You Were There";

Nate Babwah, WeBSS "Blindly Navigating";

Jazerei Lei Pajela, WeBSS "A Cry to the Moon";

Marbella Reyes, WeBSS "Never Enough";

Anahi Solano, WAAST, "One Has to See";

Jose Solis-Gomez, WAAST, "A Possible Future?"

The in-person anthology launch is at the Portland Book Festival, 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, on the stage in Shemanski Park, 1010 S.W. Park Ave., Portland.

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