BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Story Pirates, a New York City-based organization that helps children find their voice through creative writing, came to Mountain Park Elementary School on Monday, March 13, 2017 in a follow-up visit to the school after their first program on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

They put their credo—"changing kids lives one story at a time"—into play for the students with their enthusiastic, skillful and zany demonstrations of how to create characters and how to use the building blocks of a story to create interesting and new ideas.

Their first presentation, called an “Idea Storm” assembly, engaged the students in the process of creating a story by allowing them to determine whom the main characters were, where they lived, and what was going to happen in the story. The performance was interactive in all the best ways. Students made up stories about a robot monkey who lived on a floating island, a disco cat named “Mr. Music,” a taco wrestler and a pig living inside a scary book.  The actors took those ideas and brought them to life on the stage with improvised dialogue, props and costumes.  

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After the first program in January the students had a month to write their own stories and submit them to the organization. The Story Pirates then read each submitted story and provided written feedback to each student.

In last week’s follow-up assembly, director Eric Austin and actors Joanna Simmons, Hannah Corrigan and Keith Rubin performed four of the submitted stories, with a musical score by Brendan O'Grady.  The students whose works were featured were: Gianna DeAngelo (“Misunderstood Dragon”),  Jessica Sun (“Anything Can Happen”), Roland Aranas, Shane Forester, Ryan Siksnius, and Matthew Stecher (“Bob’s Big Wish”) and Mrs. Scherer’s 2nd grade students, who jointly wrote a story entitled “The Cat, The Dog and The Turtle.”

This dynamic enrichment program was co-sponsored by the Cultural Arts committee of the Mountain Park PTO and a grant from the Berkeley Heights Education Foundation.