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February 1, 2019
By Gabrielle Jansen, LaGrange Daily News
LaGrange High School senior LaTashana “Tasha” Calloway enjoys writing, but didn’t expect to become a published author before graduating high school. Calloway wrote “Marcus Meets the Marquis de Lafayette,” a bilingual children’s novel that tells the story of a boy following in Lafayette’s footsteps, and it will soon be published and for sale on Amazon.
The book started as a project for Calloway’s Spanish class at THINC College and Career Academy.
“It was a Spanish project. I just started writing, and I didn’t think it was going to be this big, honestly,” Calloway said. “I just thought it was for a grade, but I do love writing, so it was fun to do.”
Dr. Sue Forrest, the Spanish instructor at THINC, said the idea for the project started after the Lafayette Alliance reached out and asked them to write a children’s book. The Lafayette Alliance promotes sharing the story of the Marquis de Lafayette.
Forrest said she had members of the Lafayette Alliance speak to the students about Lafayette, and then members of the library spoke to them about the importance of bilingual books.
“It was all student driven,” Forrest said. “They all decided how they were going to do it and how they were going to approach the book. It was all them. We just sparked the interest.”
Forrest said students taking AP English edited the English parts of the books and students from the Hispanic community edited the Spanish portions.
The project was assigned to the students in January this year, and the Lafayette Alliance read the books and picked Calloway’s as the best in May.
“There were many good books, many good books about the Marquis de Lafayette, but Tasha’s just stood out,” Forrest said. “It was the one written with a twist. It had a different viewpoint than others. She’s a very talented writer.”
Calloway said she learned about Lafayette last year in her history class, but they didn’t study too much on the topic. She said she may write a series based on the book.
“The plot was [Marcus] growing up to follow the footsteps of Marquis becoming a soldier, stuff like that,” Calloway said. “Since we’re talking about a series, I might have it turn to something like his journey in the military but from the perspective of a soldier here.”
Forrest said they hope to use the book’s profits for project-based learning and to purchase books for children in Troup County.
“Project-based learning is what THINC focuses on because, for us, it’s the doing part of it, and in Tasha’s case, that doing part will be her foundation for the future books that she writes because she knows what to do,” Forrest said. “She knows the process. She knows how to do it, so for her it was total hands on everything that she would need.”
Calloway said she is interested in writing a novel based on her high school experience. Forrest said THINC is planning a project with the Lafayette Alliance for students to start a marketing campaign next semester.
“Tasha’s story, written for children, is for adults,” said Richard Ingram, president of the Lafayette Alliance. “Lafayette made the best of his lot, even when he found the pill bitter. Tasha makes clear how universal this story is, for young and old, and how the telling of it can unite community.”
Calloway is the daughter of Rodney Martin and LaSandra Calloway.