Springfield, MO

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Rusty Saber

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by Joe McAdoo

I think I'm on safe ground when I say that no one has become successful because of poor communication skills. Having spent my professional life helping college students learn to write and speak, I know it isn't enough to know subject matter. To be successful today, we must have command of the language and be able to properly communicate ideas to others.

Since my retirement, I've limited my activities to causes I believe are worthwhile and have goals similar to mine. For these reasons, I eagerly agreed to join the board of the Writers Hall of Fame. You may not be familiar with this organization. If so, it's time you found out about it.

Founded in Springfield in 1995, the mission of the Writers Hall of Fame is "To recognize those who have made major contributions to writing; To stimulate interest in writing among young people; To promote lifelong learning." This is a mission statement I gladly buy into.

The organization awards college scholarships to high school seniors interested in writing, joins in presenting gift certificates donated by area book stores to high school student winners in the annual LAD Language Arts Fair's 24 writing categories, and conducts writing camps for students and senior citizens writing retreats, both at Drury College.

In conjunction with Silver Dollar City and Bass Pro Shops, the Writers Hall of Fame sponsored the Kid-U-Cation program where students were given environmental messages to illustrate, which were entered in a contest. Winning entries were printed as greeting cards that were packaged and sold; proceeds went to the organization's scholarship fund.

The Writers Hall of Fame normally works quietly in support of good writing, preferring to draw attention to writers, not itself.

However, it steps into the spotlight once a year to induct into the Hall of Fame three living, nationally prominent authors and one deceased author, all with Missouri connections. The induction dinner/theater will be at 6:30 p.m. April 16 at Highland Springs Country Club.

This is a momentous event for Springfield and all of southwest Missouri because of the status of the writers to be inducted. They include Lebanon native Lanforn Wilson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and one of the most successful, prolific and honored playwrights of our time; Robert Vaughan, native of Morley, the much honored author of more than 250 books in genres from romance, to history, to western, to military; and Vicki Grove, a 29-year Missouri resident and children's author who has received numerous awards, including the Excellence in Media Foundation Silver Angel Award. All three inductees will attend the induction ceremony.

African-American literary figure Langston Hughes will be inducted posthumously. Hughes, born in Joplin, was an award-winning poet, novelist, short-story writer, playwright, song lyricist, author of juvenile books and lecturer. Hughes is considered one of the foremost interpreters of the black experience in America.

In case you are wondering, the induction banquet is called dinner/theater because selections from the works of the honored writers will be performed.

The general public will understandably see the induction ceremonies and performances as the highlight of the evening; however, Hall of Fame board members consider awards presented to student writers to be of equal importance.

Senior student writers from various southwest Missouri high schools will receive $250 scholarships. Scholarship money comes from year-long Hall of Fame fund-raising activities, including proceeds from the book "Our Good Community: a Book of Hope."

Book gift certificates will also be presented to area student winners in the southwest Missouri LAD/Writers Hall of Fame writing contest for students in grades 5-12. Tickets are $25 each and can be obtained by writing to Virginia Gleason, 1710 E. Latoka, Springfield 65804.

Next week, the Rusty Saber will return to its regular format. I thought my readers should know about the Writers Hall of Fame and this event that will shine a bright light on good writing from both ends of the spectrum.

(Joe McAdoo is former chairman of the communication department at Drury College and a Springfield public relations consultant.)

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