The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Criminal Minds students’ work sent to author

Criminal Minds students’ work was sent to Dennis Lehane after they finished reading “Mystic River”

The English Department sent work from several students taking English IV: Criminal Minds to author Dennis Lehane. Lehane is the author of “Mystic River,” a book read by the students in Criminal Minds. The students being honored are Aldo Ayala ’24, Caroline Riemer ’24, Victor Lowe ’24, Shuby Iriafen ’24, Paul Song ’24, Ava Seib ’24, Muskaan Schievink ’24, Chris Weng ’24, Maiya Holly ’24, Amber Nowaczek ’24 and Jason Li ’24.

English teacher Jocelyn Medawar said she and English teacher Jenna Gasparino originally tried to have Lehane speak in person but decided submitting student work to him was an alternative.

“[Lehane] was gracious and open to the idea of a school visit, but it just couldn’t pan out this year,” Medawar said. “I figured the next best thing would be to send Mr. Lehane some student writing. At the end of the unit, our students wrote reflections on “Mystic River” based on quotations they each curated. We told them that we would send the most thoughtful pieces to Mr. Lehane.”

Li said it was a distinction to have his work recognized by an author of a book that he enjoyed.

“Regarding my work being submitted to Mr. Lehane, I am honored,” Li said. “Mr. Lehane’s novel, “Mystic River”, is with no doubt the best novel I have read this year. “Mystic River” not only was an entertaining read but also had characters who have left a profound impression on me. After all, these character’s beliefs, feelings and ideals are all too easily reflected in our society today. I highly recommend anyone give this book a read whether they choose to take the Criminal Minds course or not.”

Medawar said she hopes opportunities like this encourages students who are not taking Honors English classes.

“I hope all our students, formally honored or not, feel seen and appreciated for their efforts to connect to the amazing stories we’re lucky enough to read together,” Medawar said. “I hope they feel that working hard to say exactly what they mean in just the right words is a rewarding and meaningful form of self-expression.”

Li said he hopes experiences like these will be replicated in the future.

“All in all, I think this is an awesome opportunity that the English department has provided,” Li said. “Through it, the book has become even more memorable than it already is in my mind. I hope that there will be more opportunities like this for future English students as long as it isn’t too much of a pain for the teachers and authors.”

Medawar said the English department will continue to connect authors with students in the future.

“As opportunities arise, we’ll work on making them happen,” Medawar said. “When the writers we’re reading live in the Los Angeles area, there’s no harm in asking if they’re interested and available.”

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