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Once Upon a Time at St. John Fisher College…


Once Upon a Time at St. John Fisher College…

On Wednesday, March 27, St. John Fisher College’s Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education and Lavery Library hosted the 15th Annual Rochester School Library System Storytelling Festival. Over 200 people attended the event, where Rochester students in grades 3 through 8 competed through storytelling.

Students and their families, local librarians, Rochester City School District School Library System Librarians, and Fisher literacy students, faculty, and librarians all gathered to hear the traditional folk tales that the students spent weeks reading and learning to prepare for the event. The competition was also open to students from the Rochester School for the Deaf. Those students used American Sign Language (ASL) to tell their stories and compete.

The students practiced for months leading up to the festival, holding competitions in the classroom in order to prepare for the big event. They each had 10 minutes, and were judged based on their story, facial expressions, gestures, and audience interaction. The competition promotes literacy development, and gives the students a chance to practice additional skills including public speaking.

As a special treat, professional storyteller, Karima Amin, performed and presented the winners with their awards at the end of the evening. Amin is also an educator, consultant, justice advocate, and drummer. She is a founding member of Spin-a-Story Tellers of WNY, Tradition Keepers: Black Storytellers of WNY, We All Storytellers, and Daughters of Creative Sound. Her storytelling has taken her throughout the United States, Southern Ontario, Canada, and to West Africa. Amin’s first children’s book, The Adventures of Br’er Rabbit and Friends, was published in 1999. The National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS) recently honored her with the 2012 Zora Neale Hurston Legacy Award for three decades of working to preserve and perpetuate the art of storytelling.

Funding for the festival was made possible through a grant from the Center for Community Engagement at St. John Fisher College.

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