HP LitFest Continues With Virtual Keynote, Workshops

Highland Park ISD students will get to enjoy talks by well-known authors again this year, albeit virtually, as part of HP Litfest.

PHOTO: HP LitFest/ Ilan Harel

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Téa Obreht will deliver the keynote virtually at 7 p.m. Feb. 25. To register to participate, visit their website.

Obreht became the youngest-ever recipient of the Orange Prize for Fiction for her debut novel The Tiger’s Wife in 2011 and was named as one of the 20 best American fiction writers under 40 by The New Yorker.

To buy Obreht’s books and help support HP LitFest, visit the Interabang Books LitFest page.

Renowned teen author Wendelin Van Draanen had a virtual visit with Highland Park Middle School and McCulloch Intermediate Feb. 4. 

Seventh and eighth graders applied to be selected to attend the virtual visit. Following the event, all fifth-eighth grade language arts teachers will have access to utilize the recording in their classroom Feb. 26 to coincide with LitFest, or on any date of their choice.

Van Draanen has written more than 30 novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the 18-book Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes series and wrote Flipped, which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by School Library Journal and became a Warner Brothers feature film. Her other stand-alone titles include Wild Bird, The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, Runaway, Confessions of a Serial Kisser, Swear to Howdy, and The Running Dream, which was awarded the American Library Association’s Schneider Family Award.

To buy Van Draanen’s books and help support HP LitFest, please visit the Interabang Books LitFest page.

“We  have something for everyone virtually,” HP LitFest co-chair Margaret Lesesne said. “Everything that we do is taking place this year with one exception and it’s the one pivot we couldn’t manage and that is our annual fundraiser…that is Flick Fest for LitFest…for obvious reasons we could not hold in a theater a showing of a literary-based film with a discussion.”

To donate and help support LitFest, visit HP LitFest’s website.

Students will also get to listen to virtual workshops from a variety of authors, journalists, songwriters, photographers, and illustrators. 

This year’s lineup of workshop presenters includes photographer, writer, and educator Kael Alford, NFL Nation reporter for ESPN Ben Baby, The Richards Group group creative director/writer Sue Batterton, author Jessica Anya Blau, artist, illustrator, cartoonist, and SMU alumnus William Bubba Flint, SMU faculty member Dr. Mag Gabbert, author Sonia Gensler, Pulitzer Prize finalist, Robert F. Kennedy Award winner and former Wall Street Journal reporter, editor, and bureau chief George Getschow, Dallas-based songwriter, composer, performing artist, and producer Michael Gomez, author Shilpi Somaya Gowda, musician and Highland Park alumnus Benji Harris, author Michael J. Mooney, author Elizabeth L. Silver, Getty Images News staff photographer Chip Somodevilla, screenwriter Kurt Voelker, author, criminal justice professor, and former CIA officer and FBI special agent Tracy Walder, cartoonist and illustrator Karl F. Wimer, author Ben Montgomery, Buzzfeed News investigative journalist and author Albert Samaha, and poet Joaquín Zihuatanejo. 

LitFest also features a district-wide poetry contest for all HPISD third and fourth grade students during the month of February. For LitFest 2021, students who would like to enter the contest can submit their poems directly to their elementary school librarian before the Feb. 26 deadline. HPHS student LitFest committee members will serve as judges, and HPMS art students will illustrate the winning entries. The final pieces will be displayed at the University Park Public Library and the Town of Highland Park Library in April, in honor of National Poetry Month.

A student writing contest opens at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, on Google and is open to any current HPHS student. Winning entries will be announced at the Student Awards Breakfast, published in the Tartan, and listed in the Bagpipe.

 For LitFest 2021, students who would like to enter the student poetry contest can submit their poems directly to their elementary school librarian before the February 26 deadline. HPHS student LitFest committee members will serve as judges, and HPMS art students will illustrate the winning entries. The final pieces will be displayed at the University Park Public Library and the town of Highland Park Library in April, in honor of National Poetry Month.

Open Mic Night for HPHS students only is still set for 7:15 p.m. Feb. 26.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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