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Teens put their own spin on Cinderella
Johnson International Scholars Academy freshman Erin Neal chats with Lanier Charter Academy 3-year-olds Grant Strine, and Taylor Joyner, left, Friday morning. She joined other JISA members in reading books to the youngsters. JISA students created their own version of the Cinderella fairy tale after completing a unit of study of fairy tale elements and the change in the fairy tale across cultures.

Once upon a time, a gingerbread girl was anxiously awaiting the town party. But her dreams may be dashed by a mean-spirted butterscotch, who is committed to stopping her.

This was the narrative to Ashley Hogan’s fairy tale creation “Candirella,” a play on the classic story “Cinderella.”

Hogan, and two of her freshman classmates from Johnson International Scholars Academy read their own personal spins on “Cinderella” on Friday to 3-year-olds at Lanier Charter Academy.

The assignment was part of a fairy tale unit in their Honor World Literature classes. The Johnson International Scholars Academy is a relatively new program at Johnson High School, which began last year. It’s considered a “school within the school” with lessons that give students a global focus, English teacher Dessica Westbrook said.

For the fairy tale assignment, the students studied the various versions of “Cinderella” from across the globe, including France, Vietnam and Korea.

“They were looking at how literature reflects culture. The stories are totally different in Vietnam compared to France,” Westbrook said.

The teens were then tasked with creating their own tales, which included modern-day versions. Hogan said her book was inspired by the board game “Candyland.”

Other students incorporated pop artists Justin Beiber and Miley Cirus as characters. The best stories were selected for a read at Lanier, Westbrook said.

“They were told to keep their audience in mind,” Westbrook said.

One of the readers, Ben Howard, said he developed a story about a penguin who went to live with an aunt after his parents were involved in an accident.

“I wanted to make something with penguins because I know kids love animals,” he said.

Preschool teacher Erin Pope said it was great for her students to see new faces in the classroom, and they’re big lovers of story time.

“Some days I’ll read a story three times. Some of them like the stories that much,” Pope said.

Howard said he enjoyed the experience of reading his story to the younger children.

“I feel like I sparked their imagination,” he said.