Seventh grade students Jackson Greeley and Zaara Mehta, have been selected to serve on the American Writers Museum Student Advisory Board. The young authors, from the Robert R. Lazar Middle School, are the only New Jersey delegates on the Chicago-based museum’s Student Advisory Board.
One of the goals of the American Writers Museum Student Advisory Board is to help the museum reach beyond Chicago by offering opportunities and programs to students throughout the United States.
Greeley and Mehta were selected by the museum based on their exemplary involvement in school activities and their eagerness to have an impact on school community. As members of the Advisory Board, the students will interact with the museum’s online materials in order to be able to discuss the impact of the museum on students and ways in which the museum can reach more students across the country.
On Wednesday, February 8, 2023, Greeley and Mehta attended their first Student Advisory Board meeting for the American Writers Museum.
Greeley was excited to learn about the museum’s resources, explaining that, “it was interesting to see what other people do with writing.”
“Jackson and Zaara were great!” said American Writers Museum Education Program Coordinator Noelle Velasco. “They both logged in on time and provided useful feedback on all the topics discussed. They were especially curious about the student writing competition.”
Mehta returned from the meeting with a plan to engage and encourage all students to submit their writings for this year’s contest.
“There are so many resources out there,” Mehta noted.
Greeley and Mehta will continue to bring their ideas and enthusiasm to the American Writers Museum Student Advisory Board for the remainder of the school year.
The students were nominated by Co-Advisors to Student Council Danielle Vytell-Mitschele and Gabe Rios.
Lazar English teacher Suezette Given was recognized by the American Writers Museum in 2021, when she was nominated for an award by former student and contemporary writer, Jenny Xie. Xie nominated Given as “a teacher who they feel was inspirational to them.”
Since receiving the American Writers Museum award in 2021, Given has become an active member on the museum’s Teachers’ Advisory Board. An inspiring teacher, Given encourages her colleagues to encourage their students to submit writing to juried contests and to take an active role in the American Writers Museum's goals.
In 2022 Ali Giordano, a Montville Township High School Freshman, won an American Writers Museum award for her poem. Giordano wrote the poem as an 8th grade Lazar student in Given’s class. Giordano was one of only two middle school students throughout the country to receive the award, and was the only winner from New Jersey.
This year, Vytell-Mitschele and Rios nominated Greeley and Mehta to the American Writers Museum Student Advisory Board.
“Both are second year student council members and active participants in Lazar activities,” Vytell-Mitschele said. “Both have leadership skills, work ethic, creative ideas to bring people together, and the drive to make a difference. Jackson has also been on the executive board as the recording secretary for his two years in Lazar.”
Robert R. Lazar Middle School is one of seven schools in the Montville Township Public Schools district. Lazar, the only middle school in the district, provides educational opportunities for 727 grade six to eight students.
Greeley and Mehta are looking forward to the remaining meetings with the American Writers Museum Student Advisory Board. As members of the Student Advisory Board, the two representatives from New Jersey received American Writers Museum items including a hat, key chain, and journal and pen, “to encourage writing,” Vytell-Mitschele said.
NOTE CORRECTION 3/17/23: Co-Advisors to Student Council Danielle Vytell-Mitschele and Gabe Rios nominated Jackson Greeley and Zaara Mehta to serve on the American Writers Museum Student Advisory Board, not Suezette Given, as was previously reported. Please see updated article above.