Howell County News/ Amanda Mendez

Willow Springs teen publishes two books

Graduates from Willow Springs High School complete a senior project as the capstone of their education. One student not only published a children’s book for his project, but also wrote and published a novel this year. 
 
Seth Wake, class of 2024, caused waves when his speech during senior project presentation night on April 25 outlined the journey of publishing a full-length novel instead focusing on his actual project – a children's book Wake titled “Hippo-Krisey.” 
 
The novel was Wake’s first choice for a senior project, but it was denied for reasons Wake and his family says were unfair. Hence, the surprise speech. Independently of the senior project process, Wake finished and published “Cold,” a 457-page novel in December. 
 
“It’s a post-apocalyptic story of a father and a daughter navigating the Ozarks in Missouri after a nuclear fallout event,” Wake said. 
 
It is “heavily” inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road, but Wake’s novel is peopled with characters inspired by the inhabitants of Willow Springs. Wake does not give any hints about who made it into the story – you will have to buy the book to find out. It is for sale on Amazon.
 
The novel began as a school assignment, Wake said. His gift for writing surprised him -- and his parents.
 
“During that year, I stayed up late nights working because I enjoyed writing it so much… For me, it’s kind of like writing down a movie as you watch it in your head.”
 
After discovering that writing is his passion, Wake stuck with a book for his senior project. He wrote, obtained illustrations for, and is in the process of publishing a children’s book that is, “intended to be a lesson on hypocrisy,” he said.
 
The main character, Hippo-Krisey, is a hippopotamus that denies other jungle animals’ entrance to a river for hypocritical reasons. 
 
“Children need to be exposed to [hypocrisy] sooner, so they’re not so frustrated with it when they see it in the real world,” Wake told Howell County News.
 
The alleged hypocrisy that is the focus of Wake’s speech and project is the denial of his novel as a senior project idea. Wake reports his initial project idea was rejected for two reasons—because it was “not hard enough” and because he had already started working on it as a school assignment. 
 
"Seth's book was a good project, but it had been completed outside the Senior Project Timeline and he hadn't sought prior approval for that, so unfortunately it did not meet the Senior Project requirements," Willow Springs Schools responded to a request for comment.
 
The Wakes say they have spoken to many current and former students who worked on their projects early, but when they approached the school about these, “hypocritical and double standards,” the school's response was “patronizing.”
 
Wake’s mother, Jeannett, who was present for the interview, said the school administration “seemed irritated that [she] would challenge the decision.” After meeting with Superintendent Dr. Marty Spence about the decision, they made no further complaints and did not approach the school board. Seth reports he experienced no disciplinary action after his speech, but the video recording of it is nowhere to be found on the school's website.
 
The school had an opportunity to respond to the quotes above but chose not to comment. 
 
Wake is twenty-second is his class and graduated cum laude. He has won awards as part of Make48 and Beta Club. He will attend Missouri S&T in Rolla in the fall and plans to study mechanical engineering. 
 
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