East Orange, NJ, October 18, 2018: Third Ward Councilman Bergson Leneus ― in conjunction with Mayor Ted R. Green, Council Chair Christopher James, Third Ward Councilwoman Quilla Talmadge, and the East Orange School District ― have partnered to begin a Book Club to provide middle and high school students with a forum to discuss issues such as community policing, gang awareness, code switching, and activism.
The first selected reading, the New York Times Best-Seller “The Hate U Give” is currently being read by 225 middle and high school students from the Hart Middle Complex, Whitney Houston Academy, STEM Academy, Cicely L. Tyson School, Fresh Start Academy and East Orange Campus High School. On Sunday, October 21, 2018, the students will take a field trip to Cineplex in Newark to view the 10:30am showing of the film starring Amandla Stenberg.
The fictional novel was initially developed by author Angie Smith — then a college student — who was shaken by the 2009 police shooting of Oscar Grant.
Mayor Green, who also has read the book, is excited about having a healthy, robust dialogue that will help to bridge the gap between the youth and adults in the community.
“This book really makes you think and I want to empower our young people to know that they will always have a voice,” said Green. “Our charge is that East Orange is ‘one city, one community with one goal and that goal equals progress.’ Engaging our students in addressing issues that affect them both inside and outside of school is huge step toward progress.”
Leneus, formerly President of the East Orange School Board, said the idea to form the book club was a serendipitous “meeting of the minds” between himself and Yukima Vannoy, Supervisor of English for Grades 6-12.
Both were seeking an opportunity to enhance student literacy, while also addressing current events and topics of interest to the students.
“Reading the book coupled with the cinematic experience and culminating activities will afford students the context and opportunity to participate in thought-provoking conversations and discourse about relevant issues that affect the community and country as a whole,” said Vannoy.
Leneus said the book club is also an opportunity to introduce students to community leaders, such as the police officers and firefighters, who will be invited to lunchtime and afterschool book discussions on a regular basis.
“We are hoping to see real measurable results. Working with the school district, we will track performance over the next two years and see how we can expand this concept to all of the schools,” said Leneus.
Vannoy, along with Taniesha Whitaker, Assistant Principal at Patrick F. Healy School, are spearheading the Book Club, under the leadership of School Superintendent Dr. Kevin West and East Orange Board of Education President Terry Swanson Tucker and Board Members.
Book club and event sponsors include the Ted R. Green Foundation, East Orange General Hospital, Novus Equities, M&J Global Transportation, Comcast, PSE&G, and Papa John’s Owner Joe Johnson.
Connie Jackson, 862-253-8454 or firstname.lastname@example.org