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Thanks to the English department, we have enjoyed visits this fall from two contemporary American writers whose book publishing careers began taking off fairly recently: Charles Shields, a former English teacher who published his first book, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, in 2006, and Lisa Klein, a former English professor, who has published four historical fiction novels for young adults in the past four years, the first one being Ophelia in 2006.

Next week, as you may have learned through the related writing contest sponsored by our English department, a writer with a career that spans over 40 years with over 50 published works  in genres including poetry, plays, novels, memoirs, and Latin translations, as well as screenplays, teleplays, a writing manual (in which she credits, among other things, a strong background in Latin for her success as a writer) – and even a cookbook based on one of her mystery series – will be gracing the auditorium at MLWGS:  Rita Mae Brown.

Gaining writing renown in the early years of her career (the early 1970’s) for novels centered on women’s rights and other social issues,  Ms. Brown has since published several novels in two New York Times bestselling mystery series and is best known these days as a mystery writer, American foxhunting enthusiast, and protector of animals and the environment.  She lives on a farm outside Charlottesville, Virginia, and her talk will focus on writing and her recent memoir, Animal Magnetism: My Life with Creatures Great and Small.

Although her writing-related awards (including Emmy Award nominations and an NEA writing fellowship) and credentials (degrees in English literature, political science, and cinematography) are impressive, Ms. Brown finds the most fulfillment in her continued work protecting animals and the environment.   A long-time activist in many areas of social justice work, her focus over the past two decades has been in these areas.

So…whether you’re enthusiastic about writing, Latin, literature, political science, horses, cats, hounds, or social justice (especially related to animals and the environment), consider attending Ms. Brown’s one-hour talk during 5th block next Wednesday, December 8th from 12:30 until 1:30pm in the auditorium.  If you’d like to read up on her career between now and then, go to EBSCO’s Literary Reference Center database and type in Rita Mae Brown Critical Survey Fiction.  Those search words should lead you to the 2010 essay “Rita Mae Brown” by Dennis Weeks and Elizabeth Schafer published in Critical Survey of Long Fiction, 4th edition (Salem Press).

If you have any questions about the assembly, please see Mrs. Lisa Williams – and remember to say “Thank you!” to our English department for arranging all these wonderful author visits this semester!


A warm welcome and enthusiastic “Thank you!” to the founding members of the new library committee, a group of students, parents, and faculty members who will share their insights, advice, and feedback about emerging library programs and services.

This 11-member group will have its first meeting during lunch on Monday, October 18th.

The founding members are as follows:

  • Student representatives: Ishani Premaratne, Porter McRoberts, Keyko Regalado, Denisha Jones, and Devin Williams
  • Faculty representatives: Anna Shore, Joy Davis, and Max Smith
  • Parent representatives from Friends of the MW Library: Marybeth Grinnan and Mary Phillipo Parker
  • And Ms. DeGroat, the librarian for MLWGS

Thanks for a successful Amnesty Week!  Over $130 in fines was waived for students who contributed nonperishable food items when they returned their overdue library books  – resulting in an overflowing box of donations that Ms. DeGroat will drop off at the Central Virginia Food Bank after school tomorrow.

Due to the field trips scheduled for Memorial Day weekend that have several students out of school beginning today, the MW Library’s Amnesty Week will be extended through Wednesday, June 2nd.

During this time, if you have overdue library materials or have returned your books but owe late fines, you can have your fines reduced or waived.  Here’s how it works:

  • Return overdue items or stop by to pay late fees and Ms. DeGroat will waive 50% of your fines.
  • If you’d like 100% of your fines waived, you may contribute one non-perishable food item for each library book that is (or was) overdue.

Join the celebration of National Poem in Your Pocket Day on Thursday, April 29th by choosing a poem from the display hanging outside the library to share spontaneously with friends, family, classmates, and unsuspecting strangers on Thursday.  The display features poems by contemporary poets of the southeastern United States, including Nikki Giovanni, Rita Dove, Greg Orr, Terrance Hayes, Linda Pastan, Tony Hoagland, and many other poets.

Want to give voice to a favorite poem of yours in an open mic session?  Stop by the library during lunch on Thursday and read your favorite poem for the crowd.   Participants will be entered in a drawing for a Starbuck’s gift card.