Community-Read Discussions Include Dialogue, Persian Meal

Monday, September 21, 2020
Eric Liu ’22 and CJ Hoffman ’22 take part in a group dialogue about “Darius the Great Is Not Okay”

Mercersburg students and faculty gathered in small groups September 21 to discuss Darius the Great Is Not Okay, the school’s 2020 community-reading selection by author Adib Khorram, which all students and faculty (and many staff and other community members) read over the summer.
Director of Library Services Alexandra Patterson and Writing Center Director Michele Poacelli worked with Cate Smith, corporate chef for Meriwether Godsey (the school’s dining-services provider), to create a Persian-themed meal which students and faculty enjoyed for dinner September 21. The menu included rice and baby lima beans with lamb; stew featuring eggplant, chicken, and split pea; warm naan bread; and Persian tea.

“Food is so much a part of all of our histories and culture," Smith said. "I was thrilled when Michele and Alexandra reached out to us to be part of the day.”
A number of student leaders facilitated the discussions, which were held as part of the school’s X-Block programming (new this year as part of the Academy’s block-scheduling format for the class day).

Dinner following the discussions included rice and baby lima beans with lamb

In addition to the discussions, all students are formulating a project in response to the book as part of the community-reading assignment. Using their inspiration from the book, students are invited to create a podcast, a work of visual or performance art, a short story, or other extension-learning activity.

Over the past three years, the authors of six of the school’s different community-reading selections have visited campus to address the school community. They include MJ Hegar (Shoot Like a Girl), Robin Benway (Far From the Tree), Lauren Markham (The Far Away Brothers), Erika L. Sánchez (I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter), Father Gregory Boyle (Tattoos on the Heart), and Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give).