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Young Storytellers Open Up

YSTFThe cast of "Glee" will be the guests of honor at the Young Storyteller Foundation's award ceremony on Oct. 15.

Over 700 students, 700 scripts, and a boatload of professional artists, publishers, actors, writers, agents, development executives, and other volunteers, paved the way for four lucky students.

These students, based on how original and well-executed their scripts are, are given the honor of sharing their screenplays with the world in the organization's "Biggest Show," which will take place this Saturday.

The Young Storyteller's Foundation originated in Los Angeles, CA. The volunteers work mainly with schools that have a high poverty indicator.

These schools choose ten students who they feel could use some extra help—children with learning disabilities, shy children, English language learners, etc.—and those students are paired with 10 professionals, creating original stories and screenplays for about an hour each week. The program lasts about seven weeks in total, and the results are simply astounding, according to executive director, Bill Thompson.

"There's nothing more powerful than the imagination of a seven year old kid. What they come up with is astonishing and difficult to come up with as an adult," he said.

Thompson, who started out as a volunteer with the program, has been there for over three years.

"It quickly became the best hour of my week," said the previous story editor. "I quit my job; told my boss that my heart was in working with kids. We're not here to be teachers. They're [the students] are here to learn, and so are we."

Thompson isn't the only one who has benefitted from the experience. 90s alum, Dominic McDonald, currently attends California State University in Long Beach. His major is English with a concentration in creative writing.

"There's a lot of freedom that comes in writing because it's self-expression. It's good to have that because they're at an age where they're experiencing all these new things, and they don't always have an outlet for them. Writing is a positive outlet for what they're going through," he said when asked how he felt the program changes those involved.

Twelve-year-old Nome Greenfield from Canfield Elementary was one of the four chosen to have his screenplay performed at the "Biggest Show."

"I'm really excited," he said. "Excited but nervous. Nervous but excited."

The "Glee" cast will act out his original story, of two rival donut corporations duking it out. When asked how he came up with the idea, Greenfield said he was inspired by an episode of "The Simpsons."

"It was a lot of fun," Greenfield said when asked how he felt about the program.

"Watching kids blossom and come out of their shells is one of the most amazing things, of what I'm the most proud," said Thompson.

– Madasyn Czebiniak

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