TAG students become authors

Published 9:58 am Thursday, May 26, 2011

CHESAPEAKE — It was a way to meet a need and in doing so a group of sixth graders have become first-time authors.

That’s what happened when the talented and gifted students at Chesapeake Middle School realized how little information existed about the local ties to the Underground-Railroad phenomenon of the Civil War era.

“We were studying the Underground Railroad and had checked out a book from the library but it was not about what was around here,” Terry Montgomery, TAG teacher, said.

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So those sixth graders decided to remedy that by writing collaboratively the historical fiction, “The Purpose of a Beating.”

“We sat down and had a brainstorming session about what was going to happen in the book,” Montgomery said. “The kids started throughout out ideas and they developed into chapters.”

The plot focuses on a family of slaves living in Kentucky on a plantation who decides to try to reach freedom by crossing the Ohio River near South Point. The old Burlington Jail even features in the story. From there they make their way to Poke Patch, the real-life community founded by freed slaves.

The authors were Jozy Jones, Jalileh Gracia, Kelly Romans, Megan Cox, Caleb Darnell, Darby McCloud and Kaleb Reynolds.

“I think it was really exciting,” Jozy said. “We just got to hang out together and learn what it was like to write a book together. Some of us in groups had different ideas and it was difficult to chose one because obviously you want your own ideas.”

Kelly appreciated how much she learned about slavery and how to work together on a single project.

“It made me really happy when we finally finished it and put all our work together,” she said.

The next step for the young authors is to take it to the library to add to its collection.

“(It’s about) people who were willing to risk their own lives to help those be free,” Jozy said.