Alverno Heights Academy Students Share Children’s Stories with St. Rita School

Ms. Ellen Hoffman ’74, Julia Landis ’17, Amanda Coscarelli ’18, Kate Samaniego ’18, Natalie Scigliano ’18, Moondera Rabb ’17, Ms. Jannifer Heiner

Students in Alverno Heights Academy’s Creative Writing class recently wrote and illustrated children’s stories to share with the first grade students at St. Rita Catholic School in Sierra Madre.

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As a preparation for their writing, Alverno’s Creative Writing teacher Ms. Jannifer Heiner invited St. Rita’s first grade teacher and Alverno Alumna Ms. Ellen Behrens Hoffman ’74 to share some of the stories that her students enjoyed reading. Ms. Hoffman shared that her students enjoyed humorous stories, stories about animals, and stories that had an element of predictability within them.

Charged with the task, the members of the Creative Writing class got to work creating wonderful stories that fit the mold described by Ms. Hoffman. After working through several drafts, creating illustrations, and receiving feedback from Ms. Heiner over a few weeks, the Alverno students headed over to St. Rita to share their stories with the students.

In total, there were five books shared with the students that included exciting themes, adventures, and beautiful illustrations. The stories shared were:

• Noah Goes to School by Moondera Rabb (12th Grade)- Noah Goes to School is the story of an owl named Noah who excitedly and accidentally heads to school on Saturday only to realize that no one is there! He almost makes the same mistake twice when he tells the principal, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

• Mr. Babu by Natalie Scigliano (11th Grade)- Mr. Babu is the story of a young boy who desperately wants to play outside but finds that desire impeded by the weather.

• The Topsy Turvy Farm by Julia Landis (12th Grade)- In this adorable story, the residents of the Topsy Turvy Farm decide that they would like to switch roles for the day only to discover that they are not as good at everyone else’s jobs as they are at their own.

• The Alien King by Kate Samaniego (11th Grade)- In The Alien King, an alien king invades Earth planning to take over but he quickly finds his plan thwarted by a young boy who banishes him to the outer universe and gains freedom for the planet and his minions.

• The Tail of Mila the Mermaid by Amanda Coscarelli (11th Grade)- Mila is a young girl who has just one desire in life—to learn to swim to fulfill her dream of becoming a mermaid. At the end of the story, young Mila finally earns her fins.

“I really love having Alverno students come to my classroom, to share their work with my first graders,” said Ms. Ellen Behrens Hoffman, St. Rita First Grade Teacher and Alverno Class of 1974 Alumna. “I’m always so impressed with their creativity, but also with their poise and confidence. It makes me proud to be an Alverno alumna myself! My first graders were completely engaged and entertained again this year. When the girls left, I asked my kids which story they liked best, and every one of the titles was mentioned! Another successful year!”

“The girls really enjoyed working on these stories and created some beautiful final products,” said Ms. Jannifer Heiner, English and Creative Writing Teacher. “The first graders at St. Rita loved them and really engaged with the girls as they were reading, which provided a positive experience for both groups. We look forward to creating some more works to be able to share in the future.”

About Alverno Heights Academy

Alverno Heights Academy is an all-girls, independent, progressive Catholic, college preparatory school dedicated to its mission of empowering each young woman to be exactly the person she wants to be. Located on the property of the former Barlow Estate in Sierra Madre, Alverno Heights Academy was founded in 1960 by the Sisters of St. Francis who sought to create an environment in the San Gabriel Valley where young women could become informed and knowledgeable persons. Later renamed Alverno High School and sponsored by the Immaculate Heart Community, Alverno’s program—academic, spiritual, aesthetic, social, and physical—has been shaped by the staff, trustees, and students. As Alverno Heights Academy once again, the school remains committed to its mission by encouraging each of their young women to be who they imagine. For more information about Alverno Heights Academy, please visit







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