PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Community School Corporation was one of nine Indiana schools recently awarded up to $3,000 each in grants from the Indiana Arts Commission. The money will be used to fund a “virtual book club” at Lincoln Jr. High School and Plymouth High School — an extension of the “One Book, One Town” community-wide literacy event. This year, the theme is the Civil War — specifically, the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh.
Anna Liechty, planning committee member and literacy consultant for the schools, said that the book club will help students reach literacy goals set by the schools as well as increase their understanding of material taught in their classes.
“Literacy is being able to really make information your own, so that you can talk about it, and critically think about it,” said Liechty.
Students will read the book “Behind Rebel Lines” by Seymour Reit, and participate in online discussions with their classmates about the story.
“It’s so hard to keep kids engaged after spring break,” said Liechty, noting that the book club is scheduled to begin in April, a typically “sluggish” time for students.
Liechty added that more than 300 students have committed to participate in the program. Most of the grant money ($2,300) will be used to host historical re-enactor Debra Conner. Connor will be assuming the persona of Mary Edwards Walker, the onlyfemale surgeon who served during the Civil War, during performances at the schools in spring. The remaining $1,600 of the grant money will be used to purchase hard copies of the book for students.
Although this is the eighth year that Plymouth will be doing “One Book, One Town,” this is the first year that students have been involved as part of school requirements. Liechty said that the eighth grade is covering the Civil War this year in their curriculum, so the virtual book club coincides nicely with their schedule. High school students are participating in the club on a volunteer basis.
Around 50 volunteers in total have stepped up to match the grant money dollar for dollar, either in financial donations or “in kind” donations of their time, expertise, or materials. Liechty said that the total cost of the program is about $9,700.