‘Freedom Writer’ visits Lakeshore Middle School

By the time she had been placed in the school where Erin Gruwell taught, Maria Reyes said she had one more chance to straighten-out before she was put in jail until her 18th birthday. Having just served nine months in jail, Reyes - 14 at the time - didn't hold out much hope for herself. "The only thing that I was ever good at doing was being a bad kid,' Reyes told Lakeshore Middle School students on Monday afternoon.
Jordan Travis
Mar 29, 2011


By Reyes’ sophomore year, Gruwell had found a way to reach her — along with a class of troubled students — by assigning books like Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl,” as well as the story of Zlata Filipovic’s childhood in Sarajevo during the Balkan conflict in the 1990s.

Lakeshore Middle School language arts teacher Linda Sowles said the school’s eighth-graders had watched the film, “Freedom Writers,” a fictional account based on Gruwell’s experience with Reyes and other students. Sowles and other staff members arranged to have Reyes speak on Monday when they found out that she would be speaking at a school in Muskegon that morning.

“We knew she would have a good message for us,” Sowles said.

Lakeshore eighth-grader Aidan Nic said he was excited when he found out that Reyes would speak at his school.

“She has the power to really influence a lot of kids into making good decisions in their life,” he said.

To read more of this story, see today's print edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


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