During a Friday morning talk, Matoaca High School graduate and author Stephanie Perry Moore told students at her alma mater that life isn’t always easy, but that’s no excuse to give up.
“Nothing in life that’s worth having comes easy,” Moore said. “It took me seven years to get my first book published.”
Moore, an author of 35 books, told the students that when she entered Matoaca High School as a freshman, she was placed in remedial English. It wasn’t fun, she said, especially since she already knew she wanted to write. It’s important that students take school seriously, she said.
“We get defensive sometimes when the teachers tell us the stuff that’s going to help us move to the next level,” she said. Sometimes, students need to tell themselves those things, too, she said.
With the help of one teacher, she was able to move from remedial English to honors English in one year, she said.
“This is the place that changed my life,” she said.
Moore, 41, was in her 20s when her first book, Staying Pure, was published. She has written several series, including The Perry Skky Jr. Series, The Payton Skky Series, The Beta Gamma Pi Series and The Laurel Shadrach Series.
Even as adults, she said, people still “have issues,” and successful people learn to deal with them.
“Sometimes you’ve got to think, ‘What can I do to get better?’” she said.
After fielding questions from the audience, Moore chatted one-on-one with several students.
“It’s so surreal for me, and very exciting, to be here,” she said. She enjoys the opportunity to inspire students to make their dreams come true, she said.
“Because I got it, it’s my duty to help the other kids, too,” Moore said. The fact that the students are going to the same school she went to “makes me just care even more,” she said.
Freshmen Rebekah Ferguson and Miles Hicks were among those in the audience Friday morning.
“She was very inspirational,” Miles said. “It was sort of like a wakeup call for kids who have just been slouching. … If she can do it, why can’t we?”
Rebekah said sometimes supposedly inspirational advice from adults rings false, and “sometimes it’s just like, ‘Stop, you guys don’t know what I’m going through.’” But, what Moore has been through is “a lot like what we’re going through, for the most part,” Miles said.
Moore said one student asked her, “How do you keep going when you want to quit?” It was fun to give them the answer that they’ve got to dig deep and find a way past their issues, she said.
According to Librarian Alda Moore, this was the author’s second visit to Matoaca High School. Her visit was paid for by the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, Librarian Maureen Cheatham said.