- Associated Press - Sunday, March 6, 2016

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. (AP) - Story Store is a program originated by Williams Baptist College.

Students from surrounding schools compose short stories about a given topic and compete to have their story put into a play.

Melinda Williams, professor of communication arts at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, wrote the play based on the short stories that were submitted. Her drama students from the college performed the play on Feb. 18.

The Paragould Daily Press (https://bit.ly/1TxaOUm ) reports that Williams has been teaching at Williams Baptist since 1983 and began Story Store about 16 years ago after attending a workshop at Walton Fine Arts Center that discussed a similar project called Arts Live.

Williams brought the proposal to the Northeast Arkansas Educational Cooperative (Co-op) in Walnut Ridge. The Co-op did not have the funding at the time, so Williams let the idea drop.

It was a few years later when her friend Rebecca Jones, gifted and talented teacher at Sloan Hendrix, took her proposal to Jill Clogsden, who was the G/T coordinator at the Co-op at the time. Clogsden loved the idea and got the proposal passed through the Co-op.

Story Store has evolved some over the years. When first started, Williams used the students’ stories in their entirety with small transitions in between. It wasn’t until a few years ago that she began piecing the stories together to form one continuous story.

Williams selects a few stories from each school and their ideas go into the script. This year 76 stories were submitted from area schools and 25 were chosen to be part of the play.

For this year’s play each student was told to draw a picture of a monster and then give the monster a back story so the monster would be a sympathetic character. Williams took the stories and created a plot that one of the characters in the store has a monster living under his bed and scientists show up to study the monster.

“It has an underlying theme of bullying and accepting people for who they are, which by the way did not come from me,” Williams said. “That theme was prevalent in a lot of the stories submitted to me, so I thought if it were important enough to the students for them to write about it, it needed to be in the script.”

Students from area schools whose stories were chosen were Maci Hines, a fifth-grader at Greene County Tech; Ella Gay, A fifth-grader at Greene County Tech; and Tori Sutherland, sixth-grader at Marmaduke Elementary.

Williams said each student whose story was chosen to go into the play will receive a copy of the script signed by each member of the cast and Williams.

“I love to see their faces when they come on stage to get their script,” Williams said. “I love that the teachers and students look forward to this every year because me and my students do.”


Information from: Paragould Daily Press, https://www.paragoulddailypress.com/

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