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Student Spotlight: Two Talented Tenth Graders Accepted into The Moth

Welcome to Student Spotlight, a new biweekly series highlighting the achievements of students across
grade levels and throughout Hastings-on-Hudson Union Free School District. 


For the first installment, we're featuring not one, but two talented tenth graders, Natalie Garson and Natalie
Romero, who, a couple of weeks ago, were both accepted into The Moth Writing Workshop, an eight-week program with applicants from across the country that dives into the art and craft of personal storytelling. The workshop concludes with participants performing five-minute stories for a small, invitation-only audience. It takes about 15 hours, which is broken up over a series of sessions. 


“The Moth is an institution and having high school students study within their framework is incredible,” said the students’ English Teacher Maria Rudolph. “It hosts ‘story slams,’ events that celebrate storytelling by inviting participants to share brief stories with an audience and has a podcast which is rich with stories from a variety of storytellers.”


According to Rudolph, whether it’s a movie, TV show, podcast or book, stories are what unite us. We learn about the world, relationships and, ultimately, ourselves by hearing others’ stories and experiences. Throughout the program, Rudolph will be advising both students on their writing, editing and proofreading, and acting as a sounding board to flesh out ideas.


“I'm so excited to advise both Natalies as they work throughout the eight weeks,” Rudolph said. “My hope is that it will help them sharpen their literary voice, take risks, and learn more about themselves and the world in which they live.”  


Read below to learn about how the students feel after being accepted and what their own hopes are as participants of the workshop.



How did you hear about The Moth Storytelling Workshop? Where does it take place?


Natalie R: Ms. Rudolph encouraged the class to apply and posted the information on the classroom bulletin.  


Natalie G: There are two different sectors for the workshop. One is city-wide and the other is made up of students from across the country. Natalie and I were accepted into the nationwide program. The workshop is virtual and spans over the course of eight weeks. 



What was the application process like? 


Natalie R: There was a series of questions in the application and one of them was a writing prompt where we had to use a short essay format. Natalie and I had different prompts for our short essays. For mine, the question was, “Tell us your biggest writing challenge.”


Natalie G: Mine was, “Why are you interested in storytelling?”



Why did you want to apply? 


Natalie R: I’ve never done anything like it! And just generally speaking, I want to gain more confidence in storytelling and in finding the right words to express myself. I think that writing a speech or a formal essay is different from personal storytelling. I want to be able to tell stories from my personal experiences and have them resonate and help people. 


Natalie G: Initially, it was a writing-based idea, and my interest was to improve my writing skills. But I also think it is a great opportunity to learn more about myself and about the world.  



Why do you think personal storytelling is important?


Natalie G: I think when you tell a story that’s personal you develop a new perspective and learn more about yourself. That’s why I love to read and write. 



How does it make you feel to be accepted into the program?


In unison: We’re excited!


Natalie R: When I found out, I went straight to Natalie. 


Natalie G: It was all a happy coincidence. 



What is one goal you’d like to achieve by the end of the workshop?


Natalie G: At the end of the workshop, we’ll have written a personal story to share with our friends and family. The weeks leading up to that point will be spent workshopping it. I’m looking forward to the result and being able to share it!