“Blissful and Exhilarating”: First-time Authors Celebrate Writing

 “Before 2016 there was no African American History Museum in Washington, DC.” Such begins the memoir of one student at Center City PCS, Capitol Hill where fourth and fifth graders have spent two months writing poetry and memoir with 826DC. Two guest artists visited during the project: poet David Keplinger and media producer Devin Gallagher, who recorded student podcasts. More than twenty memoirs and over one-hundred fifty poems (yes, you read that right!) later, student writers celebrated with a publishing party.


“The most memorable moment [was] being with my tutors,” student poet Miya said. Writing mentors helped the young memoirist craft their narratives, add dynamic hooks, and include sensory details. Kara says that she learned to “go back and proofread and add my five senses [into] my stories.” Rico added that he learned “to use specific details in my writing.”

It’s Cori, a young poet, who speaks to our hearts: “I learned that poems help you express your feelings and what you’re thinking about in your mind.”

When thinking about what it’s like to be published, James said, “It feels crazy because anytime people [could] be reading your poetry or your stories.”

Sonic, using the figurative language skills he learned from working with 826DC, said being published “feels like I’m eating endless wings.”

Listen to fourth graders of Center City PCS Capitol Hill share their poetry:

Listen to fifth graders from Center City PCS Capitol Hill share their memoirs:

Special thanks to 826DC volunteer Devin Gallagher of Wait What Productions (@waitwhatpros) for his invaluable assistance with this project. You can read more breathtaking student work here in our writing gallery.


This work was supported by our friends at AT&T.


Thank You, Clinton Yates!

ESPN journalist and radio commentator Clinton Yates (formerly at the Washington Post) visited student journalists at Center City PCS, Capitol Hill this week, where he talked about his path to becoming a journalist, current events and the role of journalists, and the importance of telling stories. A DC native, Clinton admitted to students that he doesn’t always enjoy writing, but he recognizes how critical it is to connect with people, and that journalism is an important way to share stories that might not otherwise be heard. When asked who is the most famous person he met, students were wowed by his response: “John Wall.” (Wall is a point guard for home team the Washington Wizards.)

Fifth grade student journalist Delonte said that Clinton “inspired me to keep writing even though I don’t like it.” Kalen added, “I write a journal now. In the journal I write my opinion and what I think about things.” And Elijah said, “When it comes to writing, you are my role model.”

Mackenzie, meanwhile, had advice: “You should really consider writing [a book] about how the world has changed in the past years.” Clinton said he’s thinking about it.