SHIRLEY -- Every year, each first-grader at Lura A. White Elementary School has an opportunity to orally present his or her written composition as a "featured author."

This year, the featured author themes are "If I Were a Wild Animal," "When I Grow Up," "I Am Proud of Myself Because," "I Know a Lot About," and "Things I Learned in First Grade."

According to first-grade teacher Charlene Shorey, each student writes a rough draft on a story web, edits it with help from his or her teacher, and then works on a final copy.

The students work on writing year-round, but each month three to four students per class are selected to read their stories before an audience of students, parents and teachers.

Recently, the students selected gathered in the school cafeteria to read their stories at a lectern with a microphone. Although some were so diminutive that their heads barely poked over the stand, the students projected their voices in well-articulated prose as they read aloud their personal stories.

Shorey's student, Rajit Talluri, read about being a professional basketball player for the Lakers. Greyson Doyle talked about being a scientist, and Christian Daley described what it would be like to be a software engineer.

Courtney Martineau's student, Jordan Kosakowski, said she would like to be a music teacher; Jillian Russo, an artist; Jacob Bearce, a train conductor; and, Johnny Hernandez, a firefighter.

Ken Dow's students Logan Blevins, James Churchill, Jenna Despres and Brady Davidson wrote about becoming a doctor, police officer, teacher and soldier, respectivley.

The greatest fear in America is said to be glossophobia -- the fear of public speaking -- but neither a squeak nor a quiver interrupted any child's voice. Thanks to their practice and teachers' patience, their confidence and poise belied any nervousness, and each was applauded and awarded a certificate for his or her efforts.

Here is a sampling of the students' compositions, all of which delighted students, parents, and teachers on this special occasion.

"When I Grow Up," by Logan Blevins

When I grow up, I want to be a doctor. I help people when they get injured. Sometimes I get a break. I can sit down and not have to do anything. Sometimes I will be in the ambulance truck. I might even drive the truck. I will try my hardest to take care of people. I help people so they don't get really sick. I will listen to their heart in case it's beating. If someone breaks their neck they will have go in a wheelchair. If someone breaks their leg I will make them a cast. Sometimes I won't be able to help them. The other doctors can help me when I do stuff. It will be very fun being a doctor.

"When I Grow Up," by Jenna Despres

When I grow up, I want to be a teacher. I will play games with my students. We will play the walk around the room game. The kids will follow my directions while they walk around the room. I will teach my students math and science. They will learn counting, addition, and subtraction. In science they will learn about worms, butterflies and moths. I will help my students with their work if they need help. I will go outside and play with the kids. We'll play tag and I will be "it." I will read "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish." We will do puzzles and make projects. I will have a lot of fun being a teacher.

"When I Grow Up," By James Churchill

When I grow up, I want to be a police officer. Police officers help firemen and they help people, too. Police officers are in charge of other police. They have cool suits and they have badges on their hats. Police officers have guns, like pistols. They help catch robbers when they steal money. Police officer's cars are cool and have lights on top. The lights are blue and red. When something bad happens and they have to get there quick, they turn on the lights. Police officers don't try to scare you; they help people when they are in trouble. Some police officers have moustaches and some don't. I won't have a moustache. Police officers have police dogs so if they lose a robber, the police dog can track them. Police dogs look cool, too. I want to be a police officer so I can be in charge.