Thames High School Students Join Literary Stars at Auckland Writers Festival

When stars of the literary world gathered in Auckland recently for the Auckland Writers Festival, 40 students from Thames High School were right there with them.
The Thames students joined more than 2,000 of their peers from across New Zealand at a special day for young writers, thanks in part to a grant the school received from the Writers Festival to support their travel and participation.
“In the context of reading and writing, to have the chance to meet some of these stars and hear from them directly—it’s inspiring,” said Dr. Jennifer Glenn, who teaches English at Thames High School.  “They got some very innovative ways to think about writing.”
Students said these stars—including Eleanor Catton, the youngest author to win the Man Booker Prize, plus John Marsden, Cornelia Funke, and Lloyd Jones —were so inspiring in part because they were so relatable.
“The writers seemed so friendly and funny—they were just like any of us,” said one student.
The writers emphasized the value of finding and embracing your own voice, said Thames English teacher Michelle Sim, rather than trying to sound like someone else.
This emphasis aligns closely with the school’s approach to teaching and evaluating writing. Through building a portfolio of strong personal writing, students build their skills and develop an understanding of how to write from their own experiences. “Students are learning more and more to use their own voice,” she said.
In this context, the Writers Festival offers one more way to inspire students as writers.
“It empowers the students to feel like they can write too,” Ms. Sim said.