One Book, One School for the summer

By AUBRIE GEORGE | The Marlton Telegram

The Lenape Regional High School District will again implement a reading program that requires all students in each school to read the same book over the summer. This year, however, Cherokee High School students got more of a say in what book they wanted to read during their summer vacation.

Cherokee Assistant Principal Anne Burrell said this year the school decided to generate excitement about the district’s One Book, One School program by having students and staff vote on which book they’ll read.

“In the beginning of the school year, we formed a committee made up of interested teachers and students who basically shared a love of reading,” Burrell said.

The committee involved students as well as staff members who are all avid readers.

“We wanted students on the committee because we valued their feedback and wanted to involve them in the selection process,” Burrell said.

Committee members read and discussed potential books that students could read over the summer and narrowed it down to three choices that would go to students and staff for a school-wide vote.

In choosing the final choices, Burrell said the committee looked for books with a broad appeal to readers of all ages, one that had educational value, and one that can be read independently. In an attempt to foster interdisciplinary connections across subject areas so that students have a better understanding of the text, the committee looked for books that have wide educational applications.

“We understand that it’s a challenge,” Burrell said. ”However, our hope is that our selection is a gem of a book that our students will read.”

This is the first year students in the entire school are able to have a say in what they read.

“Last year students were not included in choosing the book, and we realized it was a missed opportunity,” Burrell said.

Burrell said the fact that students at Cherokee outweigh the staff in terms of numbers, helped the students understand that their votes really counted in determining the winner.

“It’s always beneficial to give students the opportunity to be involved in authentic decision-making. Plus, the book with the most votes will appeal to the largest number of students,” Burrell said.

After three final books were chosen, students and staff voted on which book appealed most to them. The committee counted the votes and the winning selection, “Sunrise Over Fallujah,” by Walter Dean Myers, was announced earlier this month.

The district’s One Book, One School reading program requires all students in each high school read the same book for summer reading. The following school year, all teachers are encouraged to connect the selection to their subject area.

Burrell said teachers at Cherokee have an E-Board set up where teachers can post and share their ideas to incorporate the book into curriculum.

Students are assessed on their reading in English classes and the One Book, One School committee sets up activities for the summer beginning of the school year that incorporate the book.

“We embraced the One Book One School concept because it promotes literacy, brings our staff and students together by sharing a common experience, and fosters interdisciplinary connections across subject areas,” Burrell said. “We are excited about announcing our winning choice and look forward to the activities that naturally result from the One Book One School concept.”

To view more information about Cherokee’s selected book, visit Cherokee’s Web site, www.lrhsd.org/cherokee.