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Teen Takeover staff gets ready for new school year with picnic

From left, Kristen Shipley, Annie Kurz, Melissa Futrell, Maddie Nesbitt and Willow Pinkerton get food at the recent Teen Takeover picnic. (photo by Ashley May)

Last year, we started a new tradition with the Teen Takeover staff when we had a picnic for our August meeting. It was an opportunity for the returning staff members to meet the newest members, who had had their orientation in lieu of a July meeting.

It didn’t quite work out that way last August, because a nasty storm hit just as we were setting up at the picnic. Between parents who were still there or teens who could drive, we found rides for everyone back to the YDR office to have an indoor picnic. Actually, the teens found that they had bonded during the car rides back, and they talked among themselves more at that meeting than ever before, so it wasn’t all bad.

YDR journalist Leigh Zaleski distributes handouts during Grammar Smackdown. (Photo by Ashley May.

Well, this year we tried for a picnic again, and this time it worked out great. We had beautiful weather last Monday at Cousler Park in Manchester Township — a large park I recommend visiting if you never have. Everyone brought something to eat, and we ate some food and played a fun game — Grammar Smackdown.

Grammar Smackdown was created by Deborah Gump, an editor and educator, and the director of editteach.org. I’ve played this game in professional environments — including here at the YDR and in a professional development seminar at the University of North Carolina — so I decided to put together a version for the Teen Takeover picnic.

The winning Grammar Smackdown team figures out an answer. (Photo by Ashley May)

Basically, the group was broken up into four teams, and they were given sentences that had to be corrected in some way for grammar, spelling or AP style. Each team had to run their answer to me, with the goal of being first and correct. Teams received points based on correct answers and how quickly they got it, and ultimately a winning team was crowned — congratulations to Annie Kurz, Evelyn Wagaman, Geron Countess and Sophie Grove.

After they solved each problem, we went over why it was incorrect, discussing the grammar rules. It was a fun way to get a new school year rolling for Teen Takeover, and provided an opportunity for the teens to work together in groups and hopefully get to know each other a little bit.

There was some disappointment that we didn’t get caught in a thunderstorm this time around, but that was fine with me. In September, we’ll be back in the office of the YDR, ready to tackle a new year.

Check out the great work by the Teen Takeover site on their Yorkblog website and their Tumblr feed.

With Jay Yeaple sitting in the foreground, Leigh Zaleski and Matt Eyer judge an answer in the background.