"YPT is always fun because we get to play games and we get to write stories," says McKenzie Tayloe, a fourth grader at Walker-Jones Education Campus. "When we start writing, it’s always my favorite part."
McKenzie sits with her ankles crossed in the Walker-Jones library, her wide blue eyes lighting up with excitement when she’s asked how she feels about creative writing with YPT. She just finished her second year in YPT programming through Walker-Jones’ enrichment program for high-performing students, but her experience as a storyteller goes back even further.
"When I first started reading books, that’s when I started writing," McKenzie says with a grin that shows off a deep set of dimples. "My favorite story I wrote is called Problems. It’s about a girl named Iz, and she has a crush on someone but he doesn’t like her back." She quickly explains, however, that Iz isn’t one to wallow. "She gets over it and has fun with her friends."
While McKenzie’s protagonist for her YPT play is also named Izzy, it is otherwise a very different story from those she’s written in the past. The play tells the tale of the evil Ms. Math, who has kidnapped Izzy’s parents and threatened to turn them into "dumbos". Fortunately, Izzy has a "dumb ray" of her own up her sleeve, and is able to defeat Ms. Math in the end.
"I have a cat named Izzy, so that’s how I came up with that character," McKenzie explains. "And I came up with Ms. Math because I hate math!"
"When the audience sees my play I hope that they feel what I feel," she adds with a smile, "which is that I hate math, and I like spies."
In her spare time, McKenzie can be found doing gymnastics, swimming and painting. No matter what she’s doing, though, she is always searching for new inspirations for her writing. "Whenever I’m hungry at home, I’m like, ’I could make a story out of a fruit!’" she laughs. "I could make a play from anything."
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