Los Padrinos Writers’ Retreat 2011

On Saturday June 25th, 30 students who participate in IOW’s Writing Program at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall gathered for the 2011 Writers’ Retreat.


Writers’ Retreats are held annually at each of the three Los Angeles County juvenile halls where IOW offers the Writing Program.  Retreats provide an opportunity for students to gather as a community of writers to share and celebrate their writing accomplishments.  Students recite their pieces before an assembled audience of peers, teachers, Probation staff and special guests.


The Los Padrinos Retreat is the most intimate of all the retreats, offering opportunities for guests to get to know the students on an individual basis.  As Sheri Lin, the Writing Program Director said, “students request that certain guests sit with them at lunch.  Our youth then ‘chat them up’ for information and guidance in the guest’s area of expertise.”


Prior to the students’ presentations, Rob Fox, one of IOW’s outstanding volunteer teachers, spoke about one of his former students, Esché Jackson, who is currently a member of the Alumni Program’s Advisory Board.  Rob spoke about Esché’s commitment to her education, sharing that she recently received her Associate in Arts (AA) degree from Los Angeles Southwest College and will begin her studies at the University of Southern California in the fall.  Esché plans to attend law school and become a criminal defense attorney.


Before closing, Rob reminisced about Esché’s first day in his writing class, “I was immediately struck with the sharpness of her poetry. By that I mean her words had angles to them.  The words were like a diamond, multi-faceted reflections that were hard as a rock, strung together like a necklace…”  Rob’s comments offered inspiration and hope to the students and provided them with another real-life example of how they can transform their lives and achieve their dreams.


The 30 students who recited their original pieces were a dynamic and engaged bunch.  Their pieces were very strong and quite a number of them exhibited creativity in presenting their works.


IOW salutes its teachers who did an outstanding job preparing their students for the retreat!


The next Writers’ Retreat will be held on October 15th at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar.

Retreat Sound Bites

Excerpts from writings presented at the Los Padrinos Writers’ Retreat.



“…As I pull back my hair, I walk to my window, face the facility and think about how, exactly 18 years ago, I took my first breath, about how I’d never been to jail before, and now I’m in juvenile hall facing 25-to-life in prison…  I know I’ll be home one of these days, it’s just a matter of time.   They say that right before you die, your life flashes before your eyes.


I guess all I’m trying to do is make mine worth watching… “




“…Change is not going to happen right away,

you will have to set goals for change,

then strive towards conquering your goals…”





“I was 2 months old when

You left me all alone…

Even though I never got a chance to know you,

I still love you

You are my father and…

I wish I could just think back and ask for you to stay

But now it’s hard to say goodbye to yesterday.”