Dr. Kelly Sassi presenting with the Scholastic Awards at the National Writing Project Annual Meeting.

The Scholastic Awards national office is dedicated to growing affiliates across the country, including the Upper Midwest! Here’s the latest on the new statewide Affiliate Program in North Dakota! 


Students sharing their work at a Start.Write.Now workshop.

North Dakota is one of the least populated areas of the country and distances are far between its major cities and towns. Located on the high plains, North Dakota has had primarily an agricultural economy since statehood, but oil development of the Bakken fields on the western side of the state is rapidly changing the population and economy. “In a period of rapid change, art and writing are an important means of expression, and we want to promote the arts in North Dakota,” says Sassi.

The Plains Art Museum in Fargo has partnered with the Red River Valley Writing Project at North Dakota State University to serve as a new Affiliate for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards in the state of North Dakota. Olivia Edwardson, a middle school teacher in West Fargo, is serving as the statewide coordinator. Becky Dunham, the curator at the Plains Art Museum and Kelly Sassi the Director of the RRVWP are collaborating with Olivia to promote the Awards in a state that had only 20 or so entries last year.

Reaching out to rural areas, especially the state’s Native American schools and reservations is especially important to the Red River Valley Writing Project, whose mission is focused on improving writing instruction for all students K-college. By examining, analyzing, and addressing local needs, the RRVWP works to improve literacy instruction and, therefore, learning for all students.

IMG_0276The opportunity to participate in the Start.Write.Now workshops in honor of 1948 winner Kay WalkingStick was important to the Red River Valley Writing Project. In September we held a workshop for 65 Native American students at Circle of Nations School in Wahpeton, North Dakota. We had the support of another Scholastic winner, Laura Youngbird, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, who both teaches art at the school and also works for the Plains Art Museum. She is also participating in a year-long writing intensive institute for teachers, funded by a grant from the National Writing Project. With her help, we planned an interactive day for students that put Native artists and writers at the center of the workshop and provided students with choice and inspiration.




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