Twelve years ago, the Flagler Education Foundation’s Josh Crews Creative Writing Project began with about 20 elementary school students contributing to a 20-page book.
On April 11, the 2023 Josh Crews book launch at the Buddy Taylor Middle School/Wadsworth Elementary School cafeteria celebrated the publication of a 180-page anthology book with contributions from 150 students representing all of Flagler County’s Schools.
The students got to autograph the anthology and present their published works to the community. Each student received a free copy of the book.
“For some of them, they are their very first published works. For some, they've done this over the years,” said Maryiotti Johnson, the Ed Foundation’s finance and operations director.
The works are mostly fiction and include poetry and short stories as well as illustrations, all created by students. The cover was designed by a Flagler Palm Coast High School student from a digital media design class.
“I think we're the only county in the state that has a creative writing club in each school,” said Teresa Rizzo, the Ed Foundation’s executive director. “Mostly in the classroom, writing focuses on opinion or informational writing, and students don't really get a chance to do creative writing. So, it's such a great opportunity for them to be able to express themselves. And most students who write aren't students who (like to perform). They're more of that quiet, creative person. So, it's an opportunity for them to express their thoughts and creativity in writing.”
The project was named for Josh Crews, a Flagler County resident who was a prolific writer and reader. Crews died in 2010 at age 34.
This year, Crews’ nephew, Cullen Crews, a fourth-grader, was published in the book. He is the first member of the Crews family to be published as part of the project.
“It's really a legacy carrying on,” Rizzo said. “We're proud to have him in the book. It’s an awesome experience for his family and for him as well.”
Cullen Crews, Derik Hardesty and Anderson Smith all read their stories from the anthology on Flagler Broadcasting's WNZF.
The 2023 anthology can be purchased for $20 from the Ed Foundation. Go to flagleredfoundation.org/how-to-help/donate.html and click on 2023 JDC Anthology Book on "Which programs are you Helping?"