Sentinel runs literacy project series
Written by RACHEL GAST Sentinel Staff Writer
Tuesday, 09 April 2013 10:31
(Editor's note: This is a preview to a four-week series the Sentinel-Tribune is running in conjunction with the Ohio Newspapers Association's Newspaper in Education 2013 literacy project. The series will start Wednesday.)
|An illustration from the Ohio NIE 2013 literacy project series. (Illustration by Peter Burroughs)
Bowling Green locals tackle history and the wonder of technology for this month's Newspaper in Education series.
The Ohio Newspapers Association's Newspaper in Education (NIE) Committee is rolling out its 2013 literacy project. Due to the popularity of the 2012 serial story "Far Out Family Blog," Ohio NIE is back with another Ohio-authored-and-illustrated adventure. The 2013 serial features historical figures from our state, current events and technology - even time travel. But just how the story ends, and the title, is up to newspaper readers.
Amanda McGuire Rzicznek wrote the tale of Alyssa, a young Ohioan interested in President Hayes. Through the whir of technology (specifically a wormhole), Alyssa is transported from contemporary Ohio to Washington, D.C., circa 1880. While Alyssa lives the past she struggles to get back to her own time period.
Rzicznek teaches General Studies Writing at Bowling Green State University and has published book reviews in numerous literary journals.
In the story, Alyssa, during her time travel, meets Fannie Hayes, the daughter of Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th president of the United States and the third president from Ohio
Rzicznek is interested in showing the "differences in history based on technology."
Peter Burroughs, illustrator of the series, said the main character Alyssa is his favorite. "She just seems really curious and I kept trying to imagine all of her facial expressions as I did the illustrations."
Rzicznek and Burroughs, a senior at Bowling Green High School, worked together over the summer.
"Peter and I crafted what the main character would look like," Rzicznek says. "It got really fun when we took our present day character and put her in Washington, D.C., in the 1800s - we had to do collaborate research as to what they wore back then and what the White House looked like."
Rzicznek penned the chapters during June and July. She began researching in May and did not complete the series until August. "It took some time because I really wanted to make sure I was representing history appropriately, but also be able to keep my own integrity as an artist. Of course, there's editing and revision which is also time consuming."
Burroughs mentioned that he has "actually never met Rzicznek face to face - all of our work was done online" through e-mail.
Rzicznek would send early drafts of chapters to Burroughs. Burroughs would research the historical facts, sketch in pen and pencil, then send those sketches to the Ohio Newspaper Association. "Once they selected which one they liked, I would go into Photoshop and put in the details."
Burroughs spent roughly three hours per day illustrating. "I did most of the work on the computer, I used my sketches and the graphics tablet."
Rzicznek's series is the first opportunity Burroughs has had to use Photoshop. "This was kind of an experiment," he said. "It was the first time I've had a drawing tablet, I got it at the start of the project. I think I got better as I went along. It's not my usual medium."
The stories can be read separately, "but connected," Rzicznek said, "there's a bigger picture."
"The inspiration was technology and how people in the past would interpret technology, how they would see it - and how somebody from the present day deals without the technology we have now."
Rzicznek hopes school children can use the series to start "thinking about writing and how writing can transport us to different eras, how words are really important in our lives."
"I think the stories could work across a lot of disciplines - national history, state history, science."
Bowling Green High School Spanish teacher Dallas Black has translated Rzicznek's stories from English to Spanish. Rzicznek hopes teachers can also use the series "to talk about technology's role in our lives."
Rzicznek also can be found teaching yoga at the Movementality Yoga and Wellness Studio in town.
Burroughs, the 17-year-old son of Kitty and Bruce Burroughs, has racked up numerous artistic and scholarly accomplishments. He has earned a certification in piano from The Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program and has just finished with the swim team season. He participates in the Model UN, art history club and the First Amendment club.
Burroughs' favorite scene to draw was the fourth chapter. "Fannie is looking up in the sky at an airplane. I think it has a really cool perspective and interesting effects I put in with Photoshop. That one was definitely the most fun to do."
Look for Alyssa's and Fannie's adventure every Wednesday from April 10 to May 1.
Readers will be left to resolve Chapter Four's cliffhanger through a writing contest. This year's project includes the first four chapters, original illustrations, end-of-chapters questions and activities, and vocabulary words.
The NIE committee that worked on this literacy project include representatives from the Sentinel-Tribune newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch and the Lima News.