Buffalo Writers release new book
Book signing party June 2
During the 2008-2009 school year, students in Becky Dudney's English Language Development classes, and five Madras High School staff members published a book called "The Buffalo Writers Diary of Madras High School: Reflections on The Freedom Writers Diary," with "Erin Gruwell and The Freedom Writers, a Companion Text."
The book evolved out of a pilot project called "The Freedom Writers Curriculum Project," in which 98 students became published authors.
Now, in 2012, an additional 65 students, six MHS staff members, and 21-plus community members participated in the writing of the second edition, entitled "The White Buffaloes Write Again: A Hero's Journey 2010-2011," which will be released June 2.
The community is invited to a free book release and signing event, Saturday, June 2, from 6-9:30 p.m., at St. Patrick's Church Parish Hall in Madras.
Books will be available for purchase and authors will receive copies of the book and sign books for the public.
Donations for the event are still needed. Students will give speeches, perform on Native American flutes, Hispanic folkloric dances, and information booths will be set up for learning enrichment.
There will be a raffle and pi¤ata bashing. Food and refreshments will be offered. La Luna Sound, of Redmond, will provide music for dancing.
Books will be available for purchase at $13 each and all proceeds go into a fund which students may access for college assistance when they graduate. All ages are welcome.
The theme of the second edition is "The Hero's Journey" in which students have been exploring ways to find, expose, and become the hero within themselves.
Students do not believe at the beginning of the coursework that each of them is or could be a hero. As they go through the curriculum, students learn how each of them can be a hero each day, several times a day, just by doing little things, not for profit or for personal gain but because "It's the right thing to do," according to Dudney.
They are learning to make decisions moment to moment, while predicting and reflecting on the possible outcomes and consequences of each choice, she said.
The curriculum is intended to establish education reform, based on Erin Gruwell's life-changing approach to teaching at-risk kids, outlined in the book "The Freedom Writers Diary."
"Writing helped me. It gets things out that I haven't talked to people about," noted the now graduated Buffalo Writer Rabe Clements, then age 17.
"It changed how I go about things. I used to think negative and everything. Writing made me feel open," said a now graduated, then 17-year-old Damian Reynoso.
During the 2010-2011 school year, students in Dudney's ELD classes and the MHS Alternative Programs Annex in the MHS classes, read diary entries from "Freedom Writers," and studied several other hard-hitting topics.
Students then wrote reflections on those topics, which included: getting jumped (beaten up), buying a gun, death of a friend, gang initiation, Russian roulette, absentee parents, teen alcoholism, divorce, boyfriend abuse, civil rights, persons with disabilities, culture and heritage of the Hispanic and Native American communities, and more.
Dudney partnered with local organizations and entities: Jefferson County Cultural Coalition, BestCare Prevention, District Attorney Steve Leriche, Terry Courtney Jr., Lyle and Arlita Rhoan, Jarold Ramsey, Ko-Na Foster J. Kalama, Angela Blake, Garret Apland, Guy Chittenden, Irene Smith, Michael Martinez and Rosanna Jackson of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Suicide Prevention, Eagle Thunder Pow-Wow drummers, Brian and Karina Feigner, Marcelino and Mirian Romero of Romero's Trucking, Sara Ramirez, Father Luis of St. Patrick's Church of Madras, Evan Gardner, April Charlo, David Edwards, and Sky Hopinka of the "Where Are Your Keys?" language cohort, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Culture and Heritage Department elders, and others.
"We talk about the Native American holocaust, the Mayan civilization's own holocaust, and what's happening in Africa," Dudney said. The curriculum encourages kids to think about why such things happened, why history repeats itself, how to exercise their rights, and ways to prevent the horrors of the past from occurring even in our own community."
Funding for the publication and class activities is provided through a couple of different benefactors. The Jefferson County Cultural Coalition has funded the project both times, this year providing the printing costs so that each participant can have a copy of the book.
The other is an Oregon State University 1963 alumni group called "Our Brothers' Keepers," of whom Dave and Ellen Dukehart are the specific sponsors.
Their book's goal, Dudney said, "is to let kids know they're not alone in the world, that we refuse to accept abuse or exploitation and are dedicated to nonviolence; to solving problems in other ways, and to breaking the cycles of all abuse: sexual, physical, mental, drug, etc. Our other goal is to provide teachers with tools for education reform."
"It helped me get out a lot of stories that were big secrets. If I'd told those secrets, the people they were about probably would have gone to jail," said the now graduated Elizabeth Flores, then age 17.
Fedencio Abeja, then age 18, who successfully graduated, said he went through major changes because of the class. "I became more respectful. Before, I was living the life on the streets, kicking back with my homies. I'm not doing that any more. I realized that wasn't right, not caring about things," Abeja said.
He said, in 2009, reading the Freedom Writers diaries made him realize there were other kids with the same issues as him.
At that time, he didn't have plans for his future, but said "When I graduate, I might go to college." He is now enrolled at Central Oregon Community College.
In Buffalo Writer world, Dudney emphasized, "We learn to take control of our future instead of being told `This is how it is.' We make the world how we want it to be, instead of letting others tell us how it has to be."
The Buffalo Writers of 2010-2011 include:
Ana Alvarado, Freddy Alvarado, MHS teacher Garrett Apland, Selena Aguirre, Caddie Bates, MHS educational assistant Angela Blake, Claudia Barajas, MHS educational assistant/substitute teacher/SMILE Club co-advisor Guy Chittenden, Terry Courtney Jr. CTWS elder, MHS teacher Becky Dudney, Maria Diaz, Kevin Diaz Duarte, Courtney Fasthorse, Samuel Flores, Cristian Yanez Benitez, George Clements, Johnny Campbell, Madeline Figueroa, Maria Guevarra Lopez, Uziel Garcia, Marleni Acosta Gutierrez, Maria (Karina) Reyes Orduna, Joseph Hisatake, Lauren Holliday, Adan Higareda, Cheyenne Hopkins, Dondi (Packy) Hoptowit, Bryce Johnson, MHS liaison; Foster J. Kalama.
Also, Maria Arianna Lopez, Doris Lawrence, Erik Leal, Angelica "Aycee" Maki, Rafael Martinez, Samuel Martinez, Horacio Martinez, Jennifer Martinez, Dianna Menjivar, Simon Martinez, Clarence McKinley, Renee Miller, D'Covyn Medina, Marvin Mojica, Ricardo Perez Olivera, Walter Payne IV, Ariel Payne, Victoria Parsons, Autumn Picard, Woodrow Picard Jr., Ashlee Pineda, Carlos Ramirez, Lyle and Arlita Rhoan CTWS elders, Miguel Renteria, Stephanie Rodriguez, Isaul Rodriguez, Osiel Rodriguez, Marcos Roman, Gary Sampson III, Talon Sargeant, Irene Smith, Jasmine Tufti, Mandi Puckett and Sonya Littledeer-Evans of BestCare Prevention, District Attorney Steve Leriche, Rosanna Jackson and Michael Martinez of CTWS Suicide Prevention, Corey Thomas Jr., Marvin Thompson, Jericho Trimble, Marella Rose VanPelt, Diana Martinez Vasquez, Jacob Valdez, Damaris Valdez, Ashley Welden, Wyle Yazzie, and Nathan Youngman.