OGDEN -- Two Rivers High School English teacher Cassie Cox decided to get her students reading by introducing them to local authors to discuss the creative process.
She called a few local authors she knows, then had her students read their books with the promise they would get to meet them. The initial attempt was so successful last fall she was determined to repeat it this spring.
She gave the students a tight deadline to read three of the books before scheduling dinner at Sonora Grill in Ogden with those authors.
Two Rivers High School is an alternative school in the Weber School District and so Cox tries to be creative to engage her students.
After meeting Jeff Scott Savage at the first authors' dinner, student Erik Silsby wrote an essay about him for a state essay contest. He was inspired to write about
Savage because he appreciated his genuineness.
Silsby's essay won the contest and he's now competing in a national field with thousands of other high school writers. He was thrilled to meet more authors this spring.
"It is great to see them out of their shell," Silsby said of the authors.
Cox said she had the students sit by the authors of the books they had most enjoyed. It didn't take long for students to strike up conversations with the writers, asking them questions about their personal life, but also about how the writing process started for them.
Those are the exact conversations Cox wanted to hear from her students.
"This has been a bonding experience for my students and it is a cap to an amazing year," she said.
Many of her students would like to become English teachers or writers, so meeting the authors has been a great experience for them.
"I already started writing a book before I got ideas from them, but I also wanted to get ideas from them," said Crystal Bustillos, 17.
Cox said arranging the fall event took a lot of her time getting donations and grants. Two student teachers worked with her to make the spring dinner happen.
"I felt like it was a one-man show before so it has been great to have some help," Cox said.
The student teachers, Heidi Cutrubus and Monique Benard, praised Cox for the hard work she does for her students.
"She is just the best," Benard said.
Cutrubus agreed and said she was excited for the students to do something truly special and inspiring.
"Some of these kids have never been to a real dinner in a nice restaurant," Cutrubus said. "Some of the crazy things these kids have been though is gut-wrenching."
Author Emily Wing Smith, who wrote "The Way He Lived," said she likes to visit with future authors and takes advantage of the opportunities whenever she can. Author Kristen Chandler, who wrote "Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me" also met with students, as did Ally Condie, author of "Matched."
Cox was able to get copies of all the three of the authors' books so the students could have them signed that evening.