I feel strongly that the Exclusive Ink Holiday Party and Reading on Thursday was the culmination of everyone’s efforts throughout the semester, be it the Shortridge students in the literary group, young writers whose talents grew exponentially every week, or the members of the Butler community involved with the Writing In The Schools endeavor, who had the opportunity to witness a real sense of community and progress that they were instrumental in creating during our first few months.

For me, it was thoroughly moving to see everything come together in a such meaningful way. More than 20 students showed up for the festivities (by far our biggest after-school group turnout of the semester), and several used the occasion to introduce their friends and families to Exclusive Ink, which was a real treat for all the Butler tutors and volunteers in attendance. With a room full of people, we were fortunate enough to have a bountiful holiday spread (including ham, mac and cheese, and tons of other fixings and desserts) thanks to the generosity and culinary skills of our Butler volunteers. After eating and socializing, we passed out hand-selected presents (an assortment of young adults books) to every Shortridge student (even though we very nearly underestimated how many gifts we would need). Some of the reactions were truly priceless.

After we cleared away the wrapping paper, nearly a dozen Shortridge students stepped up to read their poems, short stories, and essays. Composed and confident, the students bowled us over with money line after money line. Two students even wrote poems specifically about what the Exclusive Ink Butler-Shortridge group means to them. As someone who played a part in establishing the group since the start of the semester, the poems were nothing short of touching, and I hope that including them in their entirety on the blog will give visitors a real sense of why we’re all so committed to the task at hand.

The first poem is from Marché:

Exclusive Ink, we’re talented and blessed.
Exclusive Ink, we’re prepared for any test from study in practice.
I wondered, “Are we prepared?” ’cause when we began mouths stopped and eyes stared.
I’m not being conceded, but I think we’re there.
I believe God prepared the stairs for us to climb to sucess.
So now we can take a deep breath.
Exclusive Ink, we got brains, style, the moves, and the smile.
We are the talk around town.

The second is from Kiyla, who is pictured above reading her poem:

It’s amazing how we started.
Some were friends, others associates.
College tutors starting something unique.
I’m not alone. No seriously, I’m not!
There are two other Kiylas [ed. note: Kila + Kyla, hence her nickname, “Combo Kiyla”].
Nobody here who doesn’t like to write.
Our superheroes finally let us free.
It’s kind of crazy, right?
No, it’s perfect. Unique.
We are the voices of Exclusive Ink.

In the coming days, expect to see more photos and even videos from our Holiday Party posted on the blog. It was just that awesome. Warm, fuzzy thanks to everyone involved.