The library staff at Weldon E. Howitt Middle School hosted its third annual Genre Con on Saturday, March 7, 2020—a day to celebrate all the different genres of storytelling encompassed in art, literature, and pop culture. Scores of children in grades 6-8 participated and were encouraged to come in costume. The day was packed with special guests and the east gym was transformed into an elaborate reading-themed scavenger hunt, where students visited book tables to find clues.
Author and poet Darren Sardelli entertained students with his hilarious poems. He also traced the development of his writing career, telling students about his journey to become a writer, despite his dislike for English class. Author and illustrator Chris Soentpiet also spoke about the trajectory of his career and shared some of his award-winning artwork with students. During a mini-workshop, he had teacher Anna McCarthy pose as a model to demonstrate how he uses light and shading to create his artwork. Both guests emphasized the importance of hard work in pursuing your dreams.
Darth Vader and Kylo Ren from the 501st Legion (an organization of costume enthusiasts) mingled with students and posed for photos at a green screen photo station. Art teacher Audra Donroe and her team of student volunteers used light writing technology to help young students create stunning pieces of photography. Farmingdale Public Librarian Elena Jannello spoke about the many teen programs and special events the library hosts. There was also a "flashback corner" where students could curl up on beanbag chairs with stuffed animals and revisit their favorite childhood picture books.
"I am so grateful to the members of the Howitt PTA, the Genre Con Committee, and all the chaperones, administrators, and student volunteers who helped to make Genre Con 2020 a tremendous success,” said Library Media Specialist Jennifer Bleicher. “In addition to being a lot of fun, events like this promote reading, foster a sense of community, and provide a creative outlet for students and faculty alike!"