North newsmaker you should know: Hampton student's essay about love published in book
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When friends and relatives of the Stadler family of Hampton open their gifts this holiday season, there's a good chance they will be opening a copy of the book, "This I Believe On Love."
That's because Sarah Stadler, 17, is one of the contributing writers in the book of 50 essays, published by John Wiley & Sons Inc., headquartered in New Jersey.
OCCUPATION: Senior at Hampton High School, baby sitter
HOBBIES: Plays the flute and oboe in the Hampton High School band, Young Republicans club, French club, volunteers at UPMC.
FAMILY: Parents, Dave and Kathy; brother, Matthew, 14
For a young woman who expressed no plans to be a writer, it's an enviable achievement. But for Sarah, now a senior at Hampton High School, it was a chance to put into words the lessons she learned firsthand thousands of miles from home.
Her journey into the world of publishing started as a writing assignment from her English teacher, Kelly Emmett, when she was a sophomore. Her journey into the meaning of love started much earlier.
"We had to write an essay about love. I chose to write about love as a verb," Sarah said. "Everyone always says 'I love chocolate' or 'I love pizza,' but love is much more than that."
To develop her theme, Sarah drew on her experience in visiting an orphanage in Jamaica.
A friend of her aunt in Minnesota works with the orphanage and has enlisted the help of others to work with her and raise money for the project. The Stadlers went to Jamaica when Sarah was a freshman. While there, Sarah became friends with a young girl.
"She would come and play with me," Sarah said.
After two weeks of living in conditions that Sarah had never seen before, the 8-year-old child showed her how much she appreciated her presence. " ... One day she crawled into my lap and handed me a picture that she'd made. She signed it 'Love, Shanice.' "
"I couldn't believe how much it meant to me. Here these children are, many without families, maybe even food -- certainly nothing like we have here, and she was still showing me love," she said. Shanice's actions made a lasting impression on Sarah, enough for her to write about them in her essay.
"I believe it's important to show love every day and receive it, because I believe love is more than a word; it's an action," she wrote in her essay.
As part of the assignment, students submitted the essays to the "This I Believe Inc." According to its website, "This I Believe" is a nonprofit organization based on the late Edward Murrow's 1950 radio series of the same name. The website says the program fosters public dialogue about beliefs and has collected more than 90,000 essays from people around the world describing "the core values that guide their daily lives."
Essays are read periodically on National Public Radio.
Dan Gediman, executive director of the organization and co-editor of the book, said, more than 100,000 essays typically are received for each book.
"We may receive 300 to 400 essays a week. We have reviewers who read them and those who have something going for it, something that sparks, are then passed up to another reviewer," he said.
After a long review process, the final essays are whittled down to represent a variety of subjects within the topic. "Some may be whimsical, some may be more sad or melancholy, but we want a representation of daily life," Mr. Gediman said.
Mr. Gediman is also the co-editor of "This I Believe" and "This I Believe II," both on The New York Times bestseller list.
Sarah's essay made the final cut, and her "Love is a Verb" essay is among those written by ministers, doctors and professional writers.
"It is very exciting. I had sort of forgotten about it and then I got a letter saying it was chosen," Sarah said. "But even then, I was like, 'Sure, whatever.' "
"We liked how Sarah explained how love is an action, not just a word," Mr. Gediman said.
"Using the word love comes too easy," Sarah wrote. "I know, I use it hundreds of times a day to describe anything: 'I love this book,' 'I love chocolate,' or even 'I love summer.' But love is so much more than that. How can loving minor things like chocolate and summer even compare with saying, 'I love him' or 'I love my wife'?
When Sarah received a copy of the book, the reality of her accomplishment began to dawn. "It didn't hit me until I saw the book. It was pretty exciting then," she said.
Sarah hasn't planned any book-signing parties and is downplaying her role in the publication, but she did say her mother and father are very proud.
"They have them in their offices, and I know they have bought some. It is a little bit embarrassing," she laughed.
For more information about the book: http://thisibelieve.org.
First Published December 9, 2010 12:00 am