Nearly a thousand enthusiastic youngsters (grades 4-12) from school districts all across Oregon converged on the Portland State University campus Saturday for one reason—their shared love of writing, as the Graduate School of Education hosted the 26th annual Oregon Writing Festival.
Teams of students, along with teachers and parents, attended workshops and round table sessions. The festival’s sessions were led by authors, professional writers, K-12 teachers, and university professors.
The Oregon Writing Festival is sponsored by the PSU Graduate School of Education and the Oregon Council of Teachers of English (OCTE). This event has been held for 26 consecutive years, with the last 21 taking place on the PSU campus. Students gained admission to the festival by submitting a sample their best work through their school districts.
Key note presenters included Roland Smith, award-winning author of many juvenile books, who addressed fourth and fifth graders, and Oregon’s Poet Laureate, Lawson Inada, who spoke to middle and high school students.
Festival Chair Rick Hardt says it’s an experience students won’t soon forget. For some, from Oregon’s more remote areas, it may be the first time they’ve been to Portland or any large city. The festival provides opportunities to learn more about writing, but also to make new friends and pen pals, purchase books, and acquire autographs from guest authors.
Elementary teacher Deb Gaffney from the Oregon coast holds the record for attendance at the festival. Ms. Gaffney, from Oceanlake Elementary School in Lincoln City, has attended all 26 festivals.