Students from Rushe Middle School traipsed through Barnes & Noble at The Shops at Wiregrass, on a scavenger hunt to solve a riddle.
They went from place to place picking up new clues in a search that finally led them to the discovery of the selection for the book the We Be Book’n club will read over the next few months.
The big unveil took place on Nov. 11, and the school-wide book club will read the young adult adaptation of “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. It tells the story of Olympian Louis Zamperini’s journey from airman to castaway to captive.
Students, accompanied by their parents, dropped by a table to get pointers on how the scavenger hunt worked, and picked up their first clue. As they solved one clue in one part of the bookstore, they received another clue that led them to a different part of the bookstore.
They concluded their search by meeting former Sgt. Robert Loring, a veteran who was a qualified parachute jumpmaster in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
Rushe faculty members Dawn Gilliland and Kelli Rapaport came up with the idea of creating a school-wide book club, according to school principal David Salerno. The principal was quickly onboard with the idea, and Rushe’s teachers, staff and parents have been great supporters, Gilliland said.
Gilliland — an information and communication technology literacy coach at Rushe — and Rapport, an intensive reading teacher, said the book club aims to motivate kids to read. So far, more than 100 students have joined the voluntary club.
“It’s just for fun,” Rapaport said. “We just want to get kids excited about literacy.”
Both women view themselves as avid readers and want to pass along their love of the written word to Rushe’s students. They selected an informational text because they want to help students develop the ability to read for information. They also wanted students to see that these kinds of books can be fascinating.
“We see kids who just aren’t reading, especially informational texts,” Gilliland said. “They don’t have that passion.”
Hillenbrand’s book recounts a story about perseverance, Salerno said. It’s a character trait he hopes students will develop.
The message Salerno hopes students will get from the book is this: “No matter what barriers you have, you can overcome them.” Salerno thinks the book is a good choice because it introduces students to a genre they don’t normally read.
The big reveal at Barnes & Noble capped weeks of buildup. Rushe staff members helped create a sense of excitement through dramatizations during which they pretended to beg for the book title’s name, offered bribes for the name, and even broke down crying.
Yet, Gilliland and Rapaport refused to give out the title.
At one point, they wrapped copies of the book in brown paper and marked them with the words “confidential” and “top secret,” and placed them at various places around the school. Teachers also talked up the big reveal.
Rapaport and Gilliland worked with the managers at Barnes & Noble to plan the event. Gilliland’s husband Jeff joined the teachers to developer the clues.
“Every clue has to go with what’s in the book,” Rapaport said. “It’s really previewing the content for them ahead of time.”
Jennifer Kosowski, whose daughter Brooke is a seventh-grader at Rushe, appreciates the efforts the school is making to encourage reading.
“It’s fun,” she said. “It gets them in here and gets them interested in reading.”
Brooke said she had fun figuring out the clues, noting some of them weren’t very easy.
The Barnes & Noble event is just one of many activities the school has planned for the book club. Over the next few months, as they read the book, a number of special events will take place that center on the book’s themes.
For instance, the school will have a mock Olympics because the book’s main character was an Olympian. The final event will be a lock-in at the school’s David Estabrook Collaboration Center, where students and staff members will spend the night playing games, watching movies, and having a chance to win prizes.
Published December 3, 2014
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