Starr Commonwealth Proudly Presents
Founder’s Day 2010
Sunday October 3rd
with guest speaker Erin Gruwell
In Room 203 at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, students, who were at one time deemed “unteachable,” were encouraged and promoted to rethink rigid beliefs about themselves and others and to give themselves a chance to restart their future. These students were the kids no teacher wanted and the ones that weren’t expected to succeed. Many lived in racially divided urban communities and were hardened by first-hand exposure to gang violence, juvenile detention, and drugs. Erin Gruwell inspired, motivated and, consequently, gave her students a second chance on life.
From the foreword to The Freedom Writers Diary, Zlata Filipovic, author of Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo, a book the Freedom Writer’s read in Gruwell’s class, wrote “writing about the things that happen to us allows us to look objectively at what’s going on around us and turn a negative experience into something positive and useful.” In agreement, Gruwell assigned each student a diary in which they wrote about their daily battles and experiences. These diaries for some were the only place where they felt anyone wanted to hear their stories, and for others it was the first safe place to share their stories. They dubbed themselves the “Freedom Writers” in homage to civil rights activists “the freedom riders.”
Even though a lot of people have given up on them, I refuse to believe they’re a lost cause. Although I’m no longer their teacher in the traditional sense, I am still their cheerleader, their mentor, and their close confidante. I learn from them every day, and in this way I have also become their student.”
- Erin Gruwell
As a graduate from University of California, Irvine, where she was awarded the Lauds and Laurels Distinguished Alumni Award, Gruwell currently serves as President of the Freedom Writers Foundation. She raises awareness by traveling nationwide to speak inside large corporations, government institutions, community associations, school and juvenile halls. She earned her Master’s Degree and teaching credentials from California State University, Long Beach, where she was honored as Distinguished Alumna by the School of Education.
Founder’s Day is held the first Sunday of every October at Starr Commonwealth’s Albion campus. It marks the anniversary of Floyd Starr, his family and 13 boys moving into Gladsome Cottage on Oct. 3, 1913.
Founded in 1913, Starr Commonwealth is a private, nonprofit organization licensed by the States of Michigan and Ohio and accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children. Starr Commonwealth provides a comprehensive continuum of care for at-risk youth and their families including community-based early intervention and prevention services and specialized residential alternatives. The full spectrum of services is offered through Starr’s five locations in Michigan and Ohio and training for professionals who work with youth is conducted nationwide. Starr Commonwealth is a Better Business Bureau accredited charity.
Visit the website www.starr.org for more information.
Please join us Sunday October 3rd
10 a.m. – 11 a.m.: Chapel Service
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Lunch
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Campus Tours
1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.: Program featuring Erin Gruwell begins, scholarships and awards
3 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Book signing
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