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Released May 12, 2005


HATTIESBURG Good writers are not just born that way. Master teachers, who are writers themselves, carefully cultivate those who think they are a writer or want to be a writer. To encourage young potentials, the South Mississippi Writing Project (SMWP) at The University of Southern Mississippi will offer three camps for students in all grades June 20-July 1.

The Young Writers Camp offers would-be writers an opportunity to write for their own enjoyment, free from the pressure of grades and limiting assignments. Led by an experienced SMWP teacher consultant, campers will be allowed to progress at their own pace in a variety of individual and group activities.

“Our philosophy for this camp is that students grow as writers when the teacher recognizes the level at which the student is functioning and encourages them to grow to the next level,” said Darcie Conrad, camp coordinator for the SMWP. “Students learn to write by writing, and writing often.”

Three sites have been chosen for camps: Session 1 for grades 5-9 on the Southern Miss campus in Hattiesburg, led by Patrick Gray; Session 2 for grades 1-5 at Sacred Heart School in Hattiesburg, led by Betsy Meador Henderson; and Session 3 for all grades at Collins, led by Angela Eiler.

Gray, an experienced teacher, enjoys teaching eighth grade language arts at Oak Grove Middle School in Hattiesburg—and is quite popular among his students. He has been honored among his peers as an outstanding leader, collecting awards from the VFW, NAACP, and the Lamar County School District.

A newcomer to the Young Writers staff, Henderson is not new to the writing project teaching standards. Another popular teacher with her students at Oak Grove Lower Elementary School in Hattiesburg, Henderson brings a “perfect combination of energy and creativity” to the program, said Conrad.

Eiler is a returning instructor and serves as the instructor/director of the program’s new Collins branch. She has been a teacher at Collins Middle School for three years and brings “her passion for writing and her ability to pass it along to her students” to the camp, according to Conrad.

The camps run from 9 a.m. until noon, Monday through Friday. Tuition is $150 per student and each session is limited to 15 participants. A $50 deposit is due by May 27 to hold a space in the desired session.

The SMWP, one of 175 national writing project sites, is an affiliate of the National Writing Project and the Mississippi Writing/Thinking Institute.

For more information or to register, call Conrad at (601) 266-5066 or visit the SMWP Web site at


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July 20, 2005 4:00 PM