EHS seniors share reading assignment with mentors

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By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

Monster. Crank. A Purpose Driven Life. The Lovely Bones. Nickel and Dimed. My Sister’s Keeper. The DaVinci Code. Flags of Our Fathers.

All are titles of the books chosen by Eminence High School’s 38 seniors for a reading project coordinated by school librarian, Penny Bland and senior English teacher, Cara Puckett.

Bland said she got the idea from a workshop where she learned Shelbyville High School had success with the project. “They have 300 seniors and we have about 40,” she said. “I figured we could do it.”

Adults from the community signed up to mentor the students. “The kids have been excited,” Bland said.

Due to hectic schedules they were given about nine weeks to complete their reading. “This is the first year for this,” she said. “Hopefully it’s successful.”

The students met with their mentors to discuss the books over lunch in the Eminence school library. “They can eat and talk at the same time,” Bland said. “Their schedules are really packed.” Reading mentor Reverend Sharon Fields, pastor of the Eminence Christian Church, said it was a good way to stimulate reading enjoyment. “It’s better than a plain old book report,” she said.

Eminence Elementary School Principal Michael Doran settled in with his lunch and Sarah Floyd, Dallas Roberts and Dani Wells to discuss Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. “Okay,” he said,”are you ready to discuss?”

This non-fiction title has the writer going undercover in three different locations, Key West, Florida, Portland, Maine and somewhere in Minnesota. She takes jobs as a waitress, maid, dietary aide and hanging clothes at Wal-Mart. The object was to make ends meet as a low-income worker.

Roberts said he was surprised at the difficulties she endured. “I thought it was amazing how people lived in hotels or their cars,” he said.

“What do you think was the purpose of the survivor things she learned,” Doran asked. Weiss said she thought Ehrenreich had trouble holding on to money. Floyd agreed. “She had to learn how to divide her money up, budget,” she said.

Suzanne Kirk of the Eminence Library mentored Frankie Ayers, Kristy Clark, Nikolas Lunsford and Roy Rose who read Crank. “It’s a really neat idea,” she said.

Jill Griebe, the school’s literacy coach said she was curious how the exercise would play out. Griebe along with seniors Loeticia Alvarez, Casey Hance, Michelle Raisor and Kayla Smith considered the pros and cons of My Sister’s Keeper.

Angie Gibson, a first grade teacher at the elementary school, had the largest group at her table. Jenni Devary, Nathan Hazelwood, Amber Trap, Amy Van Der Uit, Travis Whisman and Bailey Coleman all read The Lovely Bones, the fictional tale of a teenage girl, raped and murdered, who watches her friends and family from heaven.

Kim Goodloe, a special education teacher, along with Catie Ashcraft, Brock Roberts, Michael Preston, Candance Moran, Ed Berry and Brian Dong discussed Monster, a National Book Award nominated novel concerning a young man’s arrest and trial for murder.

Flags of Our Fathers was read by Eminence Superintendent Donald Aldridge and an all-male group of seniors. Brandon Couch, Chris Crenshaw, Mark Goodwin, Zach Raisor and Zach Stalker chose the patriotic book detailing the lives of the six men who raised the American flag at Iwo Jima. “We’re going to discuss patriotism as it was back then versus now,” Aldridge said.

Conversely an all-female group discussed A Purpose Driven Life, an inspirational book offering tips for living according to God’s plan. Speech teacher, Margie Zaring talked with the group of Melonie Ellis, Josie Hernandez and Katelyn Noe.

Bland said this group of seniors was an ideal choice for the project. “We just love them,” she said. “They are awesome.”

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