Dolores Sanger (left) talks to Chloe Tritchke-Stuchell, Hannah Cote, and Gretchen Birzer as they sign her copy of the book they wrote. Col­legian | Nicole Ault

Seated along a table in the back room of Rough Draft cof­fee­house on Sunday, seven local stu­dents laughed and chatted as they signed the product of four months of their work: A color-illus­trated, 36-page book about Winona, the daughter of Hillsdale’s Algo­nquin Chief Baw Beese.

“It’s cool seeing now how it’s affecting a lot of people,” said Chloe Tritchka-Stuchell, 17, who helped write and illus­trate the book. “Now that it’s printed and there’s all these people excited about it, it seems like we did some­thing really cool.”

Tritchka-Stuchell, Sam Beach, Gretchen Birzer, and Hannah and Jack Cote — all high schoolers and members of the Hillsdale Her­itage Asso­ci­ation Youth Advisory Board — helped plot and write “Legends of Winona: A Special Gift” under the direction of Heather Tritchka, an exec­utive board member of the Her­itage Asso­ci­ation. Angela Alvarez, 12, and Riley Cou­pland, 11, also signing books on Sunday, modeled the book’s two main char­acters — Cou­pland as Betsy and Alvarez as Winona.

For $10 each, the Her­itage Asso­ci­ation sold 122 of about 130 copies available on Sunday, but Tritchka said the group plans to sell 500 in the coming weeks. Pro­ceeds from the sales will help fund Tritchka’s bear sculpture project, which she plans to unveil next spring at Baw Beese Lake.

The asso­ci­ation still needs to raise about $19,000 for the bear project, and the book project might cover about a third of that amount, said Connie Sexton, the exec­utive board chair and cofounder of the Her­itage Asso­ci­ation.

As they took turns signing books for the cus­tomers who walked in on Sunday, stu­dents said seeing the fin­ished product for the first time was rewarding and exciting.

“I was kind of blown away,” Jack Cote, 15, said. “I had seen it all in pieces, and to see it all together was really cool.”

Beach, 16, said the project helped him learn to “trust in the process.”

“We slowly chipped away, and an hour ago I saw the final product, and it was awesome,” he said. He said his favorite cus­tomer response so far was his mother telling him she’d sent the book to his young nephew.

Delores Sanger, a member of the Litch­field His­torical Society, donated several of the cos­tumes the models used for the book’s illus­tra­tions and warmly engaged the stu­dents as they signed her copy of the book.

The book is “really cool,” Sanger said, noting that the cos­tumes she donated were handmade by herself or others in her family — and some date back to 1957.

“I had no idea what they were going to do with it,” she said. “I knew they’d been working on it. It’s a nice oppor­tunity for kids to do new and dif­ferent things.”