Summer Reading Submissions on Display in Burgin Center for the Arts

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Students and faculty meet for summer reading discussion groups during the first week of classes. 

A selection of submissions in the “inspired by …” pieces from this year’s Summer Reading Challenge at Mercersburg Academy will be on display in the gallery niche in the Burgin Center for the Arts, beginning Wednesday, September 25, through Monday, October 14. 

Students must read one all-school selection and the summer reading book required for their English class. This year, students were given four ways to respond to their summer reading, including a podcast, “inspired by …” (such as a painting, collage, written piece, music, or dance form), activist response, or an in-class essay. The responses are reviewed and evaluated by a team of faculty members (the summer reading committee). 

“Students seemed to like the idea of responding in ways other than an essay,” said Alexandra Patterson, director of the library at Mercersburg. 

Around 60-70 percent of students chose to do an “inspired by …” piece, 20 podcasts were submitted, and around 15 activist responses. The remainder of the student body submitted essays. 

“It was interesting to see how students dug into what they read in different ways,” said Patterson. 

Submissions for the “inspired by …” pieces ranged from paintings, collage, poetry, chatbooks, a piece of music, drawings, and sculpture, including one made with found objects. 

“We wanted students to have the opportunity to respond in a way that felt authentic to them,” Patterson said. “So giving them an opportunity to do something other than a traditional essay allowed them to reflect on the book in a different way and make it more personally related to them, and I think we certainly saw the fruits of that in what was turned in.” 

The summer reading committee includes Alexandra Patterson, Michele Poacelli, Maggie Howes, Kelly Dowling, Kelsey Steiner, Allison Stephens, Leela Woody, Mike Conklin, and Kristin Magalhães.

These faculty members grade the student responses from the summer reading challenge and choose the summer reading selections along with several student representatives. 

During the first week of classes, summer reading discussion groups took place across campus in two separate sessions on Thursday, September 5. Morning sessions, led by students, focused on the all-school reading selections, and evening sessions, led by faculty, focused on faculty-sponsored reads.