Empowering youth through reading & writing
by Holly Tsang
Nov 20, 2009 | 5510 views | 0 0 comments | 102 102 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Angelica Harris with students at her alma mater, St. Sebastian's School in Woodside.
Angelica Harris with students at her alma mater, St. Sebastian's School in Woodside.
When Angelica Harris was a student at St. Sebastian School in Woodside, she was just a small young girl looking for her niche. Thirty-eight years after graduating, Harris, now a published author of 15 years, returned on Tuesday to share her love of reading and writing with the seventh and eighth grade class.

Also present to welcome Harris home was Millie Hoglin, her 7th grade math teacher, who this year is celebrating her 50th year of teaching. Harris credits Hoglin, who also taught writing at the time, for equipping her with the basic skills to become a professional writer.

“You’re happy that you dedicated your life to education because especially in Catholic schools, the teachers make a lot of sacrifices, so we’re very happy when someone comes back and tells us, ‘Thank you for what you did for me,’” said Hoglin.

Harris’s third novel, Excalibur Reclaims Her King, came out in the spring. Set in the Arthurian era, the story is fictional, but Harris revealed the characters are based on real people. The main character, Arianna, is her alter ego and Arianna’s family members are fashioned after her own husband and children.

"What people are looking for today, I mean, we are living in such horrible times, people are looking for real-life characters that they can emulate and relate to within the pages and the words," said Harris.

She introduced St. Sebastian students to her character study and development program, which teaches aspiring writers how to develop characters based on their own experiences.

“I try to get the kids to learn that characters can empower you,” said Harris. “A story can empower you and the words on a page can empower you. Also keeping a journal can empower you."

She said reading and writing give children a voice she didn’t have when she was a child. As a result, she spends a lot of time working with children through her Excalibur Reading Program in Glendale.

Harris said reading and writing have helped her through some really rough times during her childhood and adulthood. It has allowed her to have some sort of escape from reality, but not to the extent that she is running from her problems.

“Once I close my book or I close my laptop, I go into my real world,” said Harris. “But what I've said on the page or blog empowers me to go back into that real world and deal with the real world."

To learn more about Harris’s books or the Excalibur Reading Program, visit www.angelicaharris.com.

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