Speaking Out with the Word of Mouth


Joshua Flores

Beckman High School’s Word of Mouth Club and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Club hosted a speaker event hosting author Dana Elmendorf.

IRVINE – On Wednesday, April 19, a collection of Beckman’s students gathered in room 136 for the Word of Mouth discussion and speaker event. The event was a collaboration between the Word of Mouth club and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) club and community. The author of South of Sunshine, Dana Elmendorf, attended the event to speak about several topics. Topics such as the LGBT community and Elmendorf’s book were feverishly discussed. The discussion event started at 3:00 p.m. and ended around 4:00 p.m.




Elmendorf greeted all the attendees as she walked into the classroom; she brought along pins and bookmarks to share with the audience. The author introduced her book to the students and read aloud certain parts. The book Elmendorf wrote is about a teenage girl who lives in a small Southern town who realizes that she is gay and subsequently goes through many struggles and hardships to accept who she is. After the author was done reading an excerpt from the novel, selected board members of the Word of Mouth club and the LGBT club created a panel for any questions that the students may have had.




The guest answered the questions with an abundance of knowledge, enthusiasm, and passion. Not only did Elmendorf speak about LGBT topics, she also discussed about reading and writing, and provided tips on how to become a better writer. She shared her passion about reading and writing with the audience. Word of Mouth President Rachel Sun commented, “Reading is important because it definitely helps with not just school, but it also opens up a kind of new world to understanding broader things in the world and different things you have never seen before.”




Elmendorf presented her beliefs and opinions on LGBT topics. The author talked about how an individual should seek to discover a path for his or her own happiness, and not simply waste a miserable life in trying to always please others. “Be who you are and don’t try to make other people happy. I don’t know, that just kind of hit me, hit home. You have to be yourself, you can’t try to make other people happy. So I think I’ve been struggling with that a lot and I think [to hear] her to say it and [for] her to put it in her book and say it again [at the event] is really impactful,” explained LGBT board member Andrea Lopez.




As the event started to come to a close, the board members allowed the audience members to step up and ask Elmendorf some questions themselves. At the end, board members wrapped up the event by asking the author fun questions such as requesting Southern jokes or which actors and actresses she would desire to act in a possible film adaptation of the novel. Many attendees were pleased and fascinated by Elmendorf’s fun and real personality.




“I really appreciated her genuineness and a lot of times I think that people believe that writers are people who none of us can relate to and they just sit in their beachside homes quietly writing these beautiful books, and we have really nothing in common with them. I think Dana is extremely approachable, kind, and real, and I think that came across and she encourages us to understand that if you have a story, you can tell it,” expressed Mrs. Edson.




The event finished as students and other attendees exited the classroom. Some audience members stayed behind to greet Elmendorf and asked her additional questions. Gratitude was given to Dana Elmendorf for attending the speaker event to share her opinions about many different topics. Elmendorf hopes to continue to share her opinions on LGBT rights and the message of self happiness.