Steamboat Springs With dimmer lights and some coffee, the cafeteria at Soda Creek Elementary School could have been mistaken for a bohemian cafe Friday afternoon.
Sitting haphazardly on pillows as they leaned over long tables covered with sheets of paper and notebooks, fifth-grade students read to one another about their pets, their lives and adventures real and imagined, before -- this is the nerve-racking part -- hearing comments about their work from classmates during a mid-year writing event at the school.
"It's an opportunity for kids to celebrate their writing," teacher Cindy Gantick said. "We do this twice a year."
For several months, students have practiced expository, persuasive, narrative and descriptive writing, Gantick said. The pieces shared Friday, she added, were "as polished as possible." They were creative, too.
Ten-year-old Connor Mayo's story began: "Once I was walking in a forest during prehistoric times..." and included a skirmish between a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a raptor. Peter Skovgaard, 11, included sound effects for an elevator and a helicopter during the reading of his story, which starred his classmate, Pelle Seiler. "How come my helicopter has to explode?" Pelle, 11, asked Peter.
Elisabeth Fulton, an 11-year-old in Naomi Lang's class, wrote about an "ordinary girl" named Sarah who jumps onto the back of a whale for a ride. "It kept you like: 'What's going to happen now?'" Liesl Lord, 11, said about Elisabeth's story.
In Jordan Lichnovsky's story about his red albino cornsnake, Thurston, Jordan describes in detail the sudden, frightening, dynamic event of a snake eating its prey. Jordan's story is included on this page, as are two pieces from second-graders at Strawberry Park Elementary School, where young students have been learning to write from different perspectives.