Young writers get chance to voice beliefs

Published 12:01 am Thursday, February 21, 2008

NATCHEZ — Being young doesn’t mean you can’t have beliefs.

That’s the premise of the Chocolate Milk Café, an event associated with the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, geared to getting local children to participate in the world of writing.

Fifth and sixth grade students from three local schools — Adams County Christian School, Morgantown Elementary School and Vidalia Upper Elementary School — submitted poems, essays or narratives on the theme of “Young Writers Say, ‘This I Believe.’”

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As for 11-year-old Ryan Lackey, one of the sixth graders at ACCS whose essay was selected, he believes war is wrong and there should be no more wars.

The decision to write his essay came after reflecting on past conflicts, Lackey said.

“I just thought that a lot of people have died in wars and we should honor that,” he said.

The reasons the Chocolate Milk Café was started was to let the young people of the Miss-Lou have a way to become connected to the NLCC, said Mark LaFrancis, director of public information at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Natchez.

“We had realized that even though the NLCC was a wonderful event encompassing all facets of fine literature and film, younger people needed to have a voice in it too,” LaFrancis said.

A total of 18 entries were chosen, and the young wordsmiths who crafted them will be allowed to read them before a live audience at the Chocolate Milk Café at the Armstrong Library at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s very much like an old-style coffeehouse reading, except we serve the kids chocolate milk instead of coffee,” LaFrancis said.

Lackey said he was surprised to find out his essay had been chosen, but he’s not nervous about reading in front of the group Saturday.

“Monday I read in front of almost 100 people at school, so I think I can handle it,” he said.

The event will be open only to those who have tickets. Tickets are available at the Armstrong Library.