Public Schools to host Greenwich Reads Together programs

From left, Haley Elmlinger, president of the Greenwich Library Board of Trustees, and First Selectman Peter Tesei formally unveiled the title for this year's Greenwich Reads Together.

From left, Haley Elmlinger, president of the Greenwich Library Board of Trustees, and First Selectman Peter Tesei formally unveiled the title for this year’s Greenwich Reads Together.

As part of the community-wide reading program Greenwich Reads Together, the Greenwich Public Schools will host several programs and discussion groups to support the community’s reading of The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

During the last two weeks of October, the school community will have multiple opportunities to engage in activities centered on this bestselling book and the companion books selected for younger readers: Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference by Warren St. John (both adult and YA versions), A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson by Michelle Y. Green, and Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull.

“The Boys in the Boat has personal meaning for me, as both my father and brother were serious rowers. The lesson from Daniel James Brown’s compelling narrative is an archetypal message for any reader, rower or not,” Superintendent William McKersie said. “The rowers in my family and I agree, The Boys in the Boat speaks beautifully to the importance of giving oneself to the larger collective. Rowing is a perfect sport (and metaphor) for being a small, yet essential, part of something much bigger than oneself. The team won because they wanted, selflessly, to propel the other seven in the boat across the finish line before themselves. The Boys in the Boat says a lot about working tirelessly together toward shared goals.”

The highlight of the schools’ participation will be a talk given by The Boys in the Boat author Daniel James Brown in the Greenwich High School auditorium on Tuesday, Oct. 28 and attended by students from Greenwich’s public and independent middle and high schools.

GHS Headmaster Chris Winters said, “GHS is very excited that Daniel James Brown will be speaking with our students. The author’s presence on campus provides a unique opportunity for students deepen their understanding of the heroic accomplishments of the 1936 U.S. Olympic Crew Team and to see that feat as inspiration for their own lives.”

On Friday, Oct. 24, Dr. McKersie will co-lead a book discussion on The Boys in the Boat for Board of Education and Town Hall employees with Greenwich Pen Women member Marcia Clay Hamilton.

Supporting Mr. Brown’s author talk at GHS, GHS will hold its annual Greenwich Reads Together Discussion Day on Tuesday, Oct. 28 and offer a series of related programs for faculty and students. In connection with The Boys in the Boat, there will be a panel featuring U.S. Olympic rower Jamie Koven, National Rowing Foundation Vice President and United States Rowing Team Physician Jo A. Hannafin, and GHS seniors and Greenwich Crew captains Sylvia Brounstein, Andrew Hoffmeister, Blake Manca, and Isabel Meskers. In addition, there will be an Outcasts United-related program featuring Fairfield University Bryan Ripley Crandall from Fairfield University who will engage students in a workshop on changing demographics in the United States and local and global humanitarian issues.

Later that day at 2:30 p.m., Dr. Winters will lead a book discussion on The Boys in the Boat in the media center for faculty, staff and retired faculty.

Also at 2:30 p.m., the GHS student book club, Cover to Cover, will discuss The Boys in the Boat in the Media Center. Seventh grade students at CMS will participate in a two-day writing workshop with Fairfield University Professor and Connecticut Writing Workshop Director, Dr. Bryan Crandall, who will focus on working with the students on Outcasts United and crafting essays for submission to the GRT Essay Contest.

Eastern Middle School will hold a student, parent, and faculty breakfast book discussion on Monday, Oct. 27 at 7:45 a.m. Students in all grades have had booktalks in language arts classes for all three books and have the option to read any of the three.

During selected Advisor Base periods prior to the breakfast, media specialist Karen Ball will be hosting read-alouds in the EMS Media Center of several of the racing sections of Boys in The Boat, and sections of Outcasts United. EMS students are involved in Advisor Base activities related to the discussion themes raised by the GRT books.

Western Middle School eighth graders will read Outcasts United in reading classes and discuss its themes with faculty and parents. From Oct. 23 to 25, sixth through eighth graders will create a “How Can One Person Make a Difference?” banner in the WMS cafeteria. The banner will include images, influential quotations, and students’ own stories about how they make a difference in their community.

Glenville School will conduct an all school read aloud of Wilma Unlimited and discuss the book using thinking routines from the book Making Thinking Visible such as Headlines, Chalk Talk and Step Inside. Now I Think. Third to fifth grade students will discuss Wilma Unlimited online, around given topics, using Schoology.  Kindergarten to second grade students will use KidPix or Educreations to share their thinking about Wilma Rudolph’s life.

At Julian Curtiss School of World Languages, grades three through five will read aloud and discuss Wilma Unlimited during the third week of October. Fifth graders will participate in a Google Hangout book talk session on Oct. 29 with fifth graders from New Lebanon School.

At New Lebanon, grades three through five will read aloud and discuss Wilma Unlimited during the third week of October. Fifth graders will participate the same Google Hangout book as the Julian Curtis students on Oct. 29.

At North Street School, third and fourth graders will read A Strong Right Arm as a read aloud and watch video interviews of Ms. Johnson. Parents have been invited to help facilitate discussions of the book and students will also share their impressions of the book on the North Street School GRT Blog.

Students will read Outcasts United in groups in e-book and print versions, watch CBS and CNN videos about how the Fugee Soccer Team was formed in Clarkstown, Georgia and discuss the concepts of perseverance and courage in groups and online via the North Street School GRT Blog.

Old Greenwich School will hold a book club luncheon to discuss Wilma Unlimited was held on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 for interested fourth graders. A book club luncheon to discuss A Strong Right Arm will be held through Oct. 24 for interested fifth graders.

At Parkway School third through fifth graders will read aloud and discuss Wilma Unlimited. Fifth grade will extend the discussion online through Schoology. Interested fourth and fifth grade students at the Riverside School will read Wilma Unlimited and participate in a book discussion around the themes raised therein.

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