Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

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By Andi Bourne

Become a Writing Coach

Editor's Note


Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Junior Journal (JJ) writer Kaelin Reiley was chosen by Alpine Artisans Open Book Club (OBC) members to share her poem "Mushing Fever" as the opening for author O. Alan Weltzien Jan. 21. Reiley's writing coach Carla Schade can be seen in the middle giving her a thumbs up. This is one more facet of the JJ program started this year. JJ writer Mitch Parcell read his poem "Stream Wishing Within a Knight's Heart in Dragon's Valley" at the November OBC.

SEELEY LAKE – The Junior Journal program has given voice to more than 20 students during the past year. At the program's core are the writing coaches, community members who commit to working with the students to edit and polish their work so it can be printed. We are currently looking for more writing coaches so we can continue to print submitted articles in a timely way.

Seeley Lake resident Kerry Bertsch and her mother Angela Bennett came up with the idea of providing a place in the Pathfinder for students to share the world through their eyes. Students could submit opinion pieces, articles or creative writing. While the majority of the submitted writings have been previous class assignments, that is not a requirement to be published. The Lodges on Seeley Lake sponsors the program.

When students email their writing to, they are assigned a writing coach. The coach works with the students either in person or online making suggestions and recommendations to the student. Once both the coach and the student are happy with the edits, it is submitted to the Pathfinder and is published.

The coaches are the backbone of the Junior Journal program. The coaches bring their writing experience and knowledge of the written language to help students communicate effectively to a larger audience. The coaches act as a mentor for local youth, affirming the good work they are doing in and outside of the classroom.

Many of our coaches are retired teachers. Others are writers, avid readers and have a love for the written language. The only requirement to be a coach is a commitment to work with the students and provide positive, constructive feedback to help them best communicate their message. Most of the submissions have required little editing, however, we feel the editing process is valuable and essential to the program.

Coach Cathy Harrits wrote in an email that she has had the pleasure of working with Seeley Lake fifth through 12th graders. "Every student has been receptive to suggestions and willing to work to improve. Being a coach is rewarding and fun!"

Coach Carla Schade wrote, "As a Junior Journal coach, I often feel I receive the greater reward. To guide dynamic youth that aspire to relate their thoughts, ideas and experiences through poetry and prose is inspiring... and fun."

Coach Marilyn Niklas feels that coaching is an opportunity for seniors in the community to interact with students in a positive way. Harrits and Schade agreed.

"I have found that I would look forward to finding other items in the Pathfinder about the same student I had worked with," wrote Niklas. "The experience connects the two generations in a way that might never have happened without it."

When the program started we had eight coaches. Because of circumstances, many of the coaches are no longer involved. We are in need of more coaches willing to work with fourth grade students through seniors in high school.

If you are interested in becoming a coach or would like more information please call the Pathfinder, 677-2022 or email


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