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Campers embrace digital storytelling
Literacy Forsyth offering helps hone English skills
Ian Kee, left, and Vika Hair watch videos their friends made during a Literacy Forsyth summer camp. - photo by Megan Reed

FORSYTH COUNTY — Thirty Forsyth County middle and high school students honed their English skills while sharing personal stories during a local literacy group’s annual summer camp.

Many of the students do not speak English at home, so last week’s digital storytelling camp was an opportunity to make friends and practice over the summer, organizers said.

“A lot of students will go home, and for the whole summer, they’ll speak another language,” said Annaliza Thomas, executive director of Literacy Forsyth. “At the beginning of the school year, it takes them a while to get back in to the academic English mode.”

Literacy Forsyth is a local nonprofit that helps adults further their education by learning English or earning a GED. The organization works with Forsyth County Schools in arranging the camp.

“Through our relationship with the school system, we know students who are most likely to benefit from practicing English,” Thomas said.

Campers create a video telling the story of an important event in their lives or a favorite hobby of theirs. Topics included experiences with bullying at school, a parents’ divorce and reflections on the importance of family.

Ulises, 14, worked on a multimedia project about how his graffiti-style artwork has given him an outlet for self-expression. He learned the style from friends a few years ago and practices by drawing in notebooks.

“This is a kind of expression to people to tell how you feel,” he said.

He and some friends from the camp spray-painted a canvas to showcase their talents.

Aracely Beltran-Martinez, 16, participated for the second time this year because she wanted to learn something during the break from school.

“I like how it’s not as boring as normal school. It’s actually really entertaining,” she said.

She has used the video and research skills from the camp to do projects for courses at school.

The camp’s enrollment for this year was double last year’s. The first year, in 2012, just nine students participated.