Staples English continues book club with Harding High School

%E2%80%9CThe+Hate+U+Give%E2%80%9D+by+Angie+Thomas+is+about+an+inner-city+girl+struggling+with+her+experience+with+police+brutality.

Graham Day '21

“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas is about an inner-city girl struggling with her experience with police brutality.

Graham Day '21, Staff Writer

Staples students shuffle off buses with their teachers not to attend classes, not even to walk into their own school, but to discuss a socially relevant book with students from Harding High School in Bridgeport. 

English teacher Barbara Robbins is continuing her annual book club with Harding High School in Bridgeport. This is the third year of the book club and the second year that Robbins is pairing up with Fola Sumpter, an English teacher at Harding.

This idea stemmed from the former head librarian at Staples, Colin Neenan, who thought students from Staples and Harding would benefit from a joint book club. The two schools connected and faced the challenge of choosing the book. 

“When the partnership started, Mr. Neenan had just finished “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas,” Robbins said. “Based on the plot of the text, he thought it would be a great idea to talk about the book across an urban school with our school.” 

The book club meet-ups allow students to talk about not only the book but social issues in the world today. 

I think that sharing a learning space with Staples students helps my students form connections that they would not normally have the chance to form,” Sumpter said. “Students from our first year are still talking about their partners from three years ago.”

I think that sharing a learning space with Staples students helps my students form connections that they would not normally have the chance to form.”

— Fola Sumpter, an English teacher at Harding High School

One Harding student agreed with Sumpter, that talking with someone from a different background is beneficial for both parties.

“Once we got to know each other it was easier to talk because we have more in common than just the book,” the Harding student said. “We started out scared of them, maybe of each other, but it is refreshing to speak to different people. 

Robbins also said that the books are suggested from social issues that affect both schools, hence The 57 Bus, this year’s book. 

“We were going to do “The Hate U Give” again, but almost everyone had read it,” Robbins said. “So we picked [The] 57 Bus because it deals with current social issues.”

The classes communicate not only from the meet-ups but also through Flipgrid, an app used mainly by educators that allows a teacher to post a video and for the students to respond. These videos include students’ opinions towards the book, which allows students from either school to talk to each other more than twice, like during the book club.

Robbins hopes the book club will continue in the future.

”There has even been talk about the book club expanding,” Robbins said. “It’s just a matter of building those partnerships.”