Greenwich Reads Together in October: Boys in the Boat

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 10.43.14 AMNext big pick for Greenwich Reads Together? This year the entire community is invited to read The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

  • Greenwich Public Schools has several events planned during the last two weeks of October so that everyone can read and discuss this bestselling book and the companion books selected for younger readers:
  • Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team by Warren St. John
  • One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference by Warren St. John (both adult and YA versions)
  • A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson by Michelle Y. Green
  • Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull

“The Boys in the Boat has personal meaning for me, as both my father and brother were serious rowers,” said Greenwich Schools Superintendent McKersie. “…Rowing is a perfect sport (and metaphor) for being a small, yet essential, part of something much bigger than oneself.”

GHS Programs for Greenwich Reads Together:

The highlight of the schools’ participation in GRT will be a talk given by The Boys in the Boat author Daniel James Brown in the Greenwich High School auditorium on Tuesday, October 28 and attended by students from Greenwich’s public and independent middle and high schools.


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“GHS is very excited that Daniel James Brown will be speaking with our students,” Winters said. “The author’s presence on campus provides a unique opportunity for students deepen their understanding of the heroic accomplishments of the 1936 U.S. Olympic Crew Team and to see that feat as inspiration for their own lives.”

On Friday, October 24, Dr. McKersie will co-lead a book discussion on The Boys in the Boat for Board of Education and Town Hall employees with Greenwich Pen Women member Marcia Clay Hamilton.

GHS will hold its annual Greenwich Reads Together Discussion Day on Tuesday, October 28 and offer a series of related programs for faculty and students.

There will be a panel featuring U.S. Olympic rower Jamie Koven, National Rowing Foundation Vice President and United States Rowing Team Physician Dr. Jo A. Hannafin, and GHS seniors and Greenwich Crew captains Sylvia Brounstein, Andrew Hoffmeister, Blake Manca, and Isabel Meskers. In addition, there will be an Outcasts United-related program featuring Fairfield University Dr. Bryan Ripley Crandall from Fairfield University who will engage students in a workshop on changing demographics in the United States and local and global humanitarian issues.

On Tuesday, October 28, at 2:30 p.m., GHS Headmaster Chris Winters will lead a book discussion on The Boys in the Boat in the Media Center for faculty, staff, and retired faculty.

On Tuesday, October 28, at 2:30 p.m., the GHS student book club Cover to Cover will discuss The Boys in the Boat in the Media Center. Cover to Cover will also hold a children’s book drive at GHS through October 17 as part of the Greenwich Alliance for Education’s 2014 GRT Book Drive. Donated books will be distributed to children at the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club on Wednesday, October 22.

Numerous Social Studies and English teachers have created curriculum units concerning the historical events and themes raised in The Boys in the Boat and Outcasts United, or have encouraged their students to read the book independently.


Central Middle School:

• CMS will hold a book discussion and international dessert sampling program for students, parents, and faculty on Tuesday, October 21 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

• All CMS students are focusing on one of the Greenwich Reads Together books during their Academic Bases: sixth grade students are reading A Strong Right Arm, seventh and eighth grade students are reading Outcasts United, and some individual students have chosen to read The Boys in the Boat as well.

• In addition, CMS will hold a sports equipment drive from October 13 through 21 and request new or gently used sports equipment be dropped off at the school for donation to a local community organization for after-school programs.

• Seventh grade students will participate in a two-day writing workshop with Fairfield University Professor and Connecticut Writing Workshop Director, Dr. Bryan Crandall, who will focus on working with the students on Outcasts United and crafting essays for submission to the GRT Essay Contest.


Eastern Middle School:

• Eastern Middle School will hold a student, parent, and faculty breakfast book discussion on Monday, October 27 at 7:45 a.m.

• Students in all grades have had booktalks in Language Arts classes for all three books and have the option to read any of the three.

• During selected Advisor Base periods prior to the breakfast, Media Specialist Karen Ball will be hosting read-alouds in the EMS Media Center of several of the racing sections of Boys in The Boat, and sections of Outcasts United.

• EMS students are involved in Advisor Base activities related to the discussion themes raised by the GRT books.


Western Middle School:

• WMS eighth graders will read Outcasts United in reading classes and discuss its themes with faculty and parents.

• From October 23 to 25, sixth through eighth graders will create a “How Can One Person Make a Difference?” banner in the WMS cafeteria. The banner will include images, influential quotations, and students’ own stories about how they make a difference in their community.


Glenville School:

• Glenville will conduct an all school read aloud of Wilma Unlimited and discuss the book using thinking routines from the book Making Thinking Visible such as Headlines, Chalk Talk, Step Inside, and I Used to Think…, Now I Think….

• Grade 3-5 students will discuss Wilma Unlimited online, around given topics, using Schoology.

• Grade K-2 students will use KidPix or Educreations to share their thinking about Wilma Rudolph’s life.


The International School at Dundee:

• Wilma Unlimited author Kathleen Krull will Skype with ISD fourth graders in connection with their Risktakers Unit on Wednesday, October 22.

• ISD teachers will participate in an online book discussion of The Boys in the Boat via Schoology


Julian Curtiss School of World Languages:

• Grades 3 through 5 will read aloud and discuss Wilma Unlimited during the third week of October.

• Fifth graders will participate in a Google Hangout book talk session on October 29 with fifth graders from New Lebanon School.


New Lebanon School:

• Grades 3 through 5 will read aloud and discuss Wilma Unlimited during the third week of October.

• Fifth graders will participate in a Skype session with Wilma Unlimited author Kathleen Krull on October 21.

• Fifth graders will participate in a Google Hangout book talk about Wilma Unlimited with Julian Curtis School fifth graders on October 29.


North Mianus School:

• Fifth graders will participate in a Skype session with Wilma Unlimited author Kathleen Krull on October 22.

• Fifth graders will discuss A Strong Right Arm during a book group and baseball-themed lunch.

• Grades 3 and 4 will conduct read alouds with Wilma Unlimited and write “headlines”, an activity from the book Making Thinking Visible.


North Street School:

• Grades 1 through 4 will read and discuss Wilma Unlimited in class.

• Grades 3 and 4 will read A Strong Right Arm as a read aloud and watch video interviews of Ms. Johnson. Parents have been invited to help facilitate discussions of the book and students will also share their impressions of the book on the North Street School GRT Blog.

• Students will read Outcasts United in groups in e-book and print versions, watch CBS and CNN videos about how the Fugee Soccer Team was formed in Clarkstown, Georgia, and discuss the concepts of perseverance and courage in groups and online via the North Street School GRT Blog.


Old Greenwich School:

• A Book Club luncheon to discuss Wilma Unlimited was held on September 29 and October 1 for interested fourth graders.

• A Book Club luncheon to discuss A Strong Right Arm will be held on October 20 through 24 for interested fifth graders.


Parkway School:

• Grades 3 through 5 will read aloud and discuss Wilma Unlimited. Fifth grade will extend the discussion online through Schoology.


Riverside School:

• Interested fourth and fifth grade students will read Wilma Unlimited and participate in a book discussion around the themes raised therein.


Greenwich Reads Together is a community-wide reading experience which will engage all of Greenwich in exploring a single book. Several community organizations are part of the Steering Committee leading Greenwich Reads Together, including Greenwich Library, Greenwich Arts Council, Greenwich Historical Society, Greenwich Alliance for Education, Greenwich Pen Women, Greenwich Public Schools and private schools, and Friends of Greenwich Library. Nearly 20 community organizations participated in the 2013 Greenwich Reads Together, and more than

3,000 Greenwich residents participated in events. More information is available about Greenwich Reads Together online.

About The Boys and the Boat and Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat celebrates the 1936 U.S. Olympic eight-oar rowing team – nine working class boys who stormed the rowing world, transformed the sport, and galvanized the attention of millions of Americans.

Against the grim backdrop of the Great Depression, these young men reaffirmed the American notion that merit, in the end, outweighs birthright. They vanquished the sons of bankers and senators rowing for elite eastern universities. They defeated the sons of British aristocrats rowing for Oxford and Cambridge. They reminded the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is a portrait of an era, a celebration of a historic achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.

Daniel James Brown is the author of two previous non-fiction books and was a finalist for the B&N Discover Award for Under a Flaming Sky. The Boys in the Boat has been on bestseller lists across the country, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and NPR. Brown has taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford. He lives near Seattle.



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