By Sally Murphy, Staff Reporter This year, every ’Stoga student read the same book over the summer as part of the One Book One ’Stoga program. This program requires every Conestoga student to read the same book over the summer and then analyze it in their English classes. The switch to the One Book One...
By Sally Murphy, Staff Reporter
This year, every ’Stoga student read the same book over the summer as part of the One Book One ’Stoga program. This program requires every Conestoga student to read the same book over the summer and then analyze it in their English classes. The switch to the One Book One ’Stoga program happened this year because of the great opportunity to unite the student body by having a common read. The program hasn’t been implemented very often because of the lack of timely books that would appeal to all grade levels. Tricia Ebarvia, chair of the English department, knew that picking a proper book was going to be a challenge.
“You’re never going to find a book that captures 100% of people,” Ebarvia said. “People are different.”
The English Department considered other possible titles, but selected “Patron Saints of Nothing” by Randy Ribay because it fit a variety of needs. The novel follows the story of Jay, a Filipino-American high school senior, who goes to the Philippines after the death of his cousin to both experience parts of his heritage and solve the mystery of his cousin’s death. Ebarvia wanted to choose a book that would appeal to a broad range of students.
“Teachers were looking for something that would have appealed to the most number of students,” Ebarvia said. “I think we were looking for something that could be accessible, that students could read on their own without too much teacher support, (and) that they could come back to the school year and then discuss.”
According to Ebarvia, the English Department tried the One Book One ’Stoga summer reading program about ten years ago. This is a unique year to bring the program back, but the benefits of the program could last beyond distance learning.
The perks of exploring the concepts of identity and representation also motivated the English Department to select “Patron Saints of Nothing.”
“I think (the English Department was) looking for something that could speak to the many different and diverse experiences students are having right now or in the past,” Ebarvia said.
Students throughout ’Stoga have had both unique and shared experiences in the past that enable them to connect with “Patron Saints of Nothing.” This includes junior Ledya Baci, who explained that both of her parents are immigrants.
“(“Patron Saints of Nothing”) did not deal with the direct issue of immigration, it included another voice,” Baci said. “I think that other students might relate to (Jay) because he lost someone, and drugs are a very big problem, so they definitely could relate on the question of identity.”
Discussions about “Patron Saints of Nothing” were held in all of the English classes throughout ’Stoga. English teacher Nicole Zakorchemny focused on media literacy in her classes regarding One Book One ’Stoga.
“We were talking in class about the media literacy part, so I think the themes of identity and media literacy and representation that were explored in the book were really great,” Zakorchemny said.
The future of the program for the coming years isn’t exactly clear, however, there is a strong probability that it will return at some point.
“We are looking forward to holding another One Book One Stoga at any time, depending on the titles that we think can engage the entire student body,” Ebarvia said. “This decision will be made on a year-to-year basis by the English Department.”
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