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Students Do the 'Write' Thing
Students Do the 'Write' Thing
Posted on 05/02/2018
Alex Gast, center, poses with North Buncombe Middle School Principal Dr. Jamie Johnson, left, and ELA teacher Kerri Hampton.North Buncombe Middle School eighth-grader Alex Gast reads his poem at the Do the Write Thing awards banquet on Tuesday.“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” – Anne Frank

By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Students, teachers, parents, and mentors gathered at Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr. Discovery Academy on Tuesday evening to celebrate students who use the power of language to make a difference.

The third annual Do the Write Thing awards banquet honored 12 students from Buncombe County Schools (BCS) and Asheville City Schools (ACS) who examined the causes and effects of youth violence and wrote essays about solutions.

"The words that came through the writings were just so reflective of the challenges we all face as a community, here and around the country," said BCS Superintendent Dr. Tony Baldwin. "And we believe that our Compassionate Schools model goes a long way toward supporting the social and emotional health of our kids."

North Buncombe Middle School eighth-grader Alex Gast was named as the BCS National Do the Write Thing Ambassador for his poem “7,000 Pairs of Shoes on the Capitol Lawn.” He, along with the ACS Ambassador, will travel with a parent and teacher on an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to interact with dignitaries and have their writings published in the Library of Congress.

“I’m very honored by this,” Gast said. “This is a big deal for me, and I’m really thankful for everyone who helped me get here – my teacher and my family.”

Gast’s poem addresses the prevalence of gun violence in American culture.

“In many ways it affects all of us,” he said, “and people are ready to stand up and do something about it.”

Gast thanked his English teacher, Kerri Hampton, for helping him push the limits of his writing abilities.

“Alex has definitely grown throughout the year with his writing, passion, and leadership skills,” Hampton said. “I think the experience this summer will help to polish those skills and prepare him for anything he wants to do in the future. I’m very proud of him.”

Read Gast’s winning essay.

Here are the other student finalists and their essays:
– Talia Wilson, sixth grade, A.C. Reynolds MS, “Dear Violence, Your Job Is Cruel.”
– Kyleigh Kinney, sixth grade, C.T. Koontz Intermediate School, “Untitled.”
– Teriyiah Smith, seventh grade, Valley Spring Middle School, “Motionless.”
– Damya Green, seventh grade, C.A. Erwin Middle School, “The Diary of Lily Clearwater (Fiction).”
– Katherine Stryker, eighth grade, Valley Springs Middle School, “A Violent Epic.” 

The ceremony also honored the students' teachers:
– Ken Ball, Reynolds Middle.
– DeLana Parker, Koontz Intermediate.
– Bo Roddis, Valley Springs Middle.
– Whitney Royal, Erwin Middle.
– Alison Toney, Valley Springs Middle.

Learn more about the Do the Write Thing campaign.

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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