While a large part of our programs are centered around the process behind the creation of a book, we also do several programs where student work is not published in anthologies, but is instead celebrated in other ways.
This year, twelfth graders at DeWitt Clinton High School read author Amy Waldman’s book The Submission, a novel about an anonymous contest to design a memorial at Ground Zero, and the uproar of journalists and politicians when they learn that a Muslim architect wins. The book helped the students answer the question, “How do you decide how to memorialize an event?” which was an important part of their curriculum.
After reading the novel, the students held an ethical discussion with Amy, which included questions about why she chose to write the book and how she came about its topic. Then, the students visited the 9/11 Tribute Center.
On their visit, the students learned a lot about what it takes to build a memorial, and how architects go about constructing them. They learned about writing memorial proposals, and then they were tasked with composing their own 750-word proposals to commemorate an event in history of their choice.
BtB organized a group of DeWitt Clinton alumni to volunteer in the classroom to aid students in revising their works, and discuss their projects’ merits and strengths. The students were highly appreciative of the alums’ visit. When they finished their work, the students presented their proposals to the class. Overall, the project emphasized the significance of history, writing prowess, and public speaking skills, all of which the DeWitt seniors will continue to build upon in the future.
Even though they did not produce a published book, the seniors at DeWitt Clinton High School were still able to develop a deep appreciation for books, authors, and writing. They were able to sharpen their skills and build mastery experience, which is invaluable to a reader’s self-confidence level.
Of the program, one student said, “It was nice to meet someone with such experience, and who has had such an influence on our society.” Another said that hearing Ms. Waldman present her ideas to the class added some “inspiration that I could not get just from reading the book.”
After the students had finished their work, their teacher, Mr. Ray Pultinas, submitted his lesson plan and the work his students had done during the Behind the Book program to the 9/11 Tribute Center, and he won their Teacher Award for helping create an exemplary educational project that sustained the memory of the 9/11 attacks.
The students’ work was definitely a great success!
by Jenna Danoy, Social Media Marketing Intern