The Dedication of High School Asylum—Main Reason Why I Wrote It

To My Former Students:

In September of 2001, I was both eager and idealistic when |
I began my teDustusaching career as a sixth-grade language arts
instructor at a K-8 Elementary School in North Jersey. A new millennium was already underway, as well as great change in many lives, including my own and those of my students.

The students in my Language Arts classes were excited to begin the school year. From the moment I first walked the school grounds, I learned that they were understandably nervous about starting the brand-new middle school format of switching rooms between periods.

As for me, perhaps idealistic was an understatement, fresh out of grad school with my masters degree. The first year of teaching seemed to be all I had ever hoped immediately. It also proved to be a great challenge that I soon enjoyed. Initially, I found the adjustment more rewarding than challenging. In that respect, I hoped my students felt the same way and I believe that they did. Then tragedy followed only a few days later.

September 11th devastated us all. Everyone knew at least one person that lost relatives and family friends. There were times when I could barely look “my kids” in their scared puzzled eyes. How was I to help explain this world to them? Student-teaching did not prepare me for monumental catastrophe. Nothing prepared any of us for what had happened.

We all felt lost. For distraction, I immersed myself in writing novels when at home. As for my students, journal writing became especially important to them. The assignments had emerged into much more than any classroom activity. Rather, it became an outlet for venting pent-up feelings of anger, bewilderment, confusion, and frustration. For many of my students, writing became a means of regaining their emotional self-control. Without question, prompts and exercises led to the release of hidden pain nobody wanted to discuss aloud. Spiral notebooks opened closed doors of sadness, and I was convinced that my classes were teaching me invaluable lessons regarding life. Some of their writings were incredibly moving. They made me question what I was doing with my life. Without even knowing it, they questioned my resolve as an artist.

I am so proud of my students. I remember every single one of them. They revealed to me more than just their opinions, complaints, secrets, and dreams. In truth, what I had read in my sixth-graders’ journals taught me about human resilience and listening to the true voice of my spirit inside me. Through therapeutic entries and liberating poetry writing, they seemed to rediscover the beautiful sides to life that the choking dust cloud over Manhattan could never extinguish! Thus, realizing that my childhood was nothing like what they were experiencing, I wanted to listen to them and took to heart the very encouragement that I gave them. Simultaneously, my own writing became very personal and cathartic.

In short, my students inspired me to write a novel for them and their older brothers and sisters. Well, many of them are in college now, and that makes me feel old! I wish all of them joyful lives.

High School Asylum is now officially dedicated to them. Thank You. —Adam 🙂

Check Out High School Asylum…

Book One

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