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Writing at sunrise SHS students rise early to watch an October day dawn

Finding high school students awake at dawn might be a revelation in itself.

So when a class full of Somerset High School students were at the school to watch the sun rise on Oct. 17, there had to be a good reason. The reason was a high school class named "Writing Crafts" that has become increasingly popular with students.

The class is taught by Kathy Murphy. She began the course five years ago, with one section per year. The interest in the class has grown so much that there will be a section of the class in each of the four quarters of this school year.

One time during each quarter when the course is offered, the students arrive at school on a designated day one hour before sunrise. This is for an exercise in creative writing. Every 5-10 minutes, Murphy has the students write about what they see. The students bring blankets and lawn chairs.

"We just lay out under the stars," Murphy said. "We write about the various phases of the sun rising."

This year the students had a comfortable 55 degree morning, as they arrived well before 6 a.m. Murphy instructs the students on what to look for. They look at the colors of the moon as it sets, the colors of the sunrise as it reflects off the silo on the DeCosse property or the tree line to one side of the school property "where the vibrant oranges and reds of the fall colors jumped right out," Murphy said.

The culminating event of the morning is the group of students walking down to the sign at the high school entrance at sunrise. There they greet the sun as it comes up.

After the sun comes up, the students head to Murphy's classroom, where they are treated to breakfast.

There were many observations made by the students in their writing. They wrote about how quiet and dark the school is when it is empty. Several wrote that they'd never noticed a sunrise before and that something that beautiful happens every morning.

The students in the fall class are fortunate. Murphy said the students for past spring sections of the class have had to arrive at the school at 4:45 a.m. to be ahead of the sunrise by an hour. The weather isn't always as cooperative either. Murphy recalled one cold morning when the class was held, where Keith King wore his hunting clothes to try to keep warm.

This exercise is just one of the creative writing projects the students do in the class. The course is primarily poetry, but the students also write an essay a week. The pieces they write range from light to serious, personally reflective pieces.

"They share humor with and feelings of the other side of the heart," Murphy said. "A real trust develops."

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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