Students and faculty members came together through literature for the fifth annual One School, One Book program. Coordinated by librarian Margaux Calemmo, this year’s initiative featured the historical fiction novel Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.
On March 8, students and staff gathered together for small group “chat station” discussions about the themes of the novel and its ties to our present-day society. This was the culminating event of an ongoing process since January.
The event commenced with icebreaker activities and a reading of the primary source poem Pestilence: Written During the Prevalence of a Yellow Fever by Philip Feneau. Students were then broken out into individual “chat stations,” facilitated by teachers from all curriculum areas. Students shared their perspectives on the character development and themes of the novel, placing emphasis on the crude medical practices of the time and the theme of perseverance as it correlates to life in the year 2022, having endured life during a global pandemic.
Calemmo emphasized the theme of “finding light after the dark,” and the history of human strength and fortitude during unbelievably difficult times.
“In the novel, the main character, Mattie Cook is coming of age and finding her identity during unprecedented and extraordinary times,” Calemmo said. “So many of our young adult students have been able to see a part of themselves in Mattie, as they grapple with their personal development over the past two years.”
Students shared these correlations, along with favorite scenes and characters from the novel at their individual chat stations.
One School, One Book is always a popular event at Garden City High School. Planning by committee began in the fall and utilizing student voice and choice, students voted on their choice of three titles in January, with Fever, 1793 emerging as the winner. The district is thankful to the PTA for donating paperback copies of the book, and the Garden City Public Library, which made print, electronic and audiobook versions available.
—Submitted by Garden City Public Schools