ALA Ironwood sophomore publishes first book

While students experience many “firsts” as a teenager — first time going to a dance or first time driving a car– American Leadership Academy Ironwood student, Kiley Figgins, can say she is a first-time author while only a sophomore in high school.

“Shipwrecked,” a book of poems Ms. Figgins has worked on since the eighth grade, is available for purchase on Amazon. She published the book on Feb. 12 through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service, according to a press release.

“I hope anyone who enjoys poetry or is struggling can pick up my book and realize you’re not alone,” Ms. Figgins wrote in the Amazon description for her book. “Your emotions aren’t wrong and you have every right to feel them as intensely as needed.”

ALA Ironwood sophomore Kiley Figgins and her book “Shipwrecked.” (Submitted photo)

Ms. Figgins said she writes poems every day, many of which fill her school notebooks. She said her book has inspired and touched people in her life, including those closest to her.

“A lot of my family has found peace and healing reading my book,” she said.

While Ms. Figgins said she wanted to publish her poem book for a while, being in ALA’s entrepreneurship class during the fall 2018 semester gave her the extra confidence to take the next step in pursuing her passion for poetry.

“I definitely think that the entrepreneurship class helped push me to publish my book,” she said.
And gaining confidence is what Jeff Laniewski hopes every student takes away from his entrepreneurship class at ALA Ironwood High School.

Mr. Laniewski’s background is in business and he is an entrepreneur himself who helped to start GlobEcoMaine, a company that makes a biodegradable cleaning cloth from wood fiber.

He reminds students that they have the confidence and ability to do great things with a special quote by William H. Johnson: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

“That’s what I want to instill in these young adults,” Mr. Laniewski said in a prepared statement. “You have the ability, so just go out there and do it.”

Currently, 396 high school students at ALA’s Ironwood, Gilbert North and Queen Creek campuses are gaining hands-on, practical experience with starting and running a business through the school’s Entrepreneurship Launchpad Course.

At the beginning of the course, students learn about entrepreneurship and sales by “trading up” and making money starting with a pine cone. Throughout the semester, students build their own businesses and develop critical skills necessary to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Besides learning about self-confidence and independence, Mr. Figgins, as the captain of her entrepreneurship group in class, learned how to develop a successful team and earn money in the process.

Her group made $1,300 during the fall 2018 semester offering a variety of services and products including babysitting, yard work, and baked goods. Ms. Figgins sold a variety of art products including paintings and calligraphy work, a release states.

Ms. Figgins said she really enjoyed the class and learned different life lessons, but there is one thing that will stick with her.

“There are no excuses,” she said. “You can always find ways to make money, you just have to have the right mindset.”

Mr. Laniewski said that accountability, one of ALA’s core RAISE values, plays a factor into his classroom every day.

Students have to stand up and talk in front of the class to give updates about their businesses. It forces students to put themselves out there, he said.

Mr. Laniewski said he is thrilled that Figgins took the initiative to go and publish her poem book.

“I’m psyched with any success that these students have,” he said. “Kiley is one of the first ones and that doesn’t surprise me. She knows what she wants to do and is not afraid to put herself out there.”

Ms. Figgins did just that. She allowed her personal experiences and emotions to inspire her writing to ultimately help her publish her book.

The title “Shipwrecked” was inspired by a poem that says “even the worst of shipwrecks has the prettiest treasures.”

Ms. Figgins said she has learned that you can always ask for a life raft if you are drowning because someone is always there to help.

Ms. Figgins has plans to publish her next book “Third Degree Burn,” which contains fire-related poems. The title is inspired by her dad who is a fireman for the Mesa Fire Department.

The Queen Creek Independent is mailed each month to 24,000 homes.

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