Student Information

The following information will help you to decide whether you want to go to the English Festival at YSU this year—and, if you are going to the Festival, to help you to prepare for and to benefit from the activities.


After your teacher gives you an overview of the Festival, you will be asked if you are interested in attending. To be invited (or to be an alternate), you must make a commitment to read all the Festival books for your grade level by late February. From those who make such a commitment, your teacher will choose up to 35 student participants if you’re a 10th–12th grader, or up to 30 student participants if you’re a 7th–9th grader, and several alternates, giving preference to those who have never attended the Festival before and to those who have never won a major Festival Students writing prize.


Registration for each day of the Festival is limited to approximately 1,000 students. There is a non-refundable school registration fee of $8 per student ($10 if out of district). To register for the Festival, you must demonstrate to your teacher (probably by taking a written or oral quiz) that you have completed the required reading on schedule. In early January, you will be tested on four of the books to see if you’ve read them and on the other three by the end of February. When you register, you will be expected to sign a statement that you have read the Festival books, that you will conform to the Festival’s policy on acceptable behavior, and that you will attend all your scheduled sessions.Any infractions of these rules will be reported to your principal.


You will need reliable pens or pencils. You will not need paper since it will be supplied to you when necessary. Do not bring any books, notes, or dictionaries.


All entries in Festival competitions except the art competition become the property of YSU. None can be returned. The University reserves the right to publish any of the entries submitted, with credit given to their authors.

Festival Activities

At the Festival, you will follow a prearranged schedule called a “track.” Your teacher may ask you which track you prefer from your school's designated tracks, so read the descriptions of the various activities. Along with all other participants, you will hear the featured author-lecturer and have a break for lunch. You must attend all the sessions for which you are scheduled. No changes are permitted. Monitors will take attendance. If you do not attend your scheduled sessions, your principal will be informed. In addition to the Awards Ceremony, you will participate in four of the following:

Visiting Lecturers:
Faculty students writing in the Ohio Roomor administrators from other universities often lead special sessions at the Festival on topics dealing with concerns about writing or reading or on topics deriving from the Festival Booklist. Some of these sessions are intended for faculty, teachers, librarians, and parents.

Impromptu Writing Contests:
These contests are held on the day of the Festival. You are allowed fifty minutes to deal with a topic that is given to you at the beginning of the session. You are limited not only in time but also in how much you can write. You are allowed to write only on the front and back of one sheet of paper. You may not bring notes or paper to the competition. Topics may require you to explain, criticize, compare, contrast, or argue points of plot,characterization, theme, setting, etc., in various Festival books, or they may require you to describe situations beyond the stories—for example, to create a conversation between two characters from different Festival books.The highest scores go to those who answer the questions directly and creatively, offer the most appropriate specific details to support points, organize material well, and use standard spelling, punctuation, etc. The essays are identified by code numbers only, so no judge knows either the students’ names or their schools. Papers are graded by holistic and trait analysis scoring systems.

Writing Games:
In Writing Games, you work with other students on a task that necessitates pooling your understanding of a book or books on the Festival Booklist and responding imaginatively, according to rules given to you at the beginning of the session. Writing Games reward not only reading and writing skills but also ingenuity and the ability to cooperate. For example, one Writing Game might ask teams to develop promotional campaigns for books they have read. To do that, each team would have to prepare a brief news release to booksellers, describing its book, a marketing slogan, a newspaper ad for it, etc. The results are students at presentationjudged on the basis of how imaginative the projects are and how skillfully the teams followed instructions while working within a strict time limit. Entries are coded and judged anonymously, using a trait analysis scoring system.

Poetry Workshops:
Poetry Workshops encourage creative responses through varied innovative activities.

Prose Workshops:
Prose Workshops, concerned with generating ideas and using creativity, engage you in exercises that tap your imaginative and critical abilities.

Journalism Workshops:
Journalism Workshop introduces you to journalistic interviewing techniques by having you participate in a “press conference” with the Thomas and Carol Gay Memorial Lecturer, the James A. Houck Memorial Lecturer, or another noted guest, and then having you write up the interview for publication. Entries are judged anonymously.

Writing Labs:
Festival Writing Labs encourage learning about writing through a group activity writing task based on the Festival book list. The labs are conducted by university and high school faculty working together and are noncompetitive.

Insights sessions give you the opportunity to discuss and ask questions about selected books on the Festival book list. Insights into the creative process, background material on the books, and provocative critical approaches to them are some of the things you might gain from these sessions.

Not-So-Trivial Pursuit:
Teams of students compete in an exciting, challenging game that tests your memory and attention to detail by requiring you to answer extremely specific questions about characters, events, locations, names, and who-knows-what in Festival books.

I <3 Limericks:
Teams of students compose limericks, a form of poetry, based on the English Festival books.

Reading poems and plays provides a special enjoyment, but hearing them read or performed by accomplished performers heightens enjoyment. Theatrical and musical performances expand the appreciation of art.

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