Editor's note: The following feature was authored by Paul Theobald, Director, Rural Lit RALLY and Dean, Buena Vista University School of Education and Exercise Science. This is the third story provided by Paul as part of our partnership to produce stories on place-based education.
Best known for a work of adolescent fiction called Rascal (1963), Edgerton native Sterling North was a major twentieth-century literary talent. His focus, generally, was the rural Midwest, as in Plowing on Sunday (1934) and Night Outlasts the Whipoorwill (1937). But he also contributed many biographies of famous Americans, such as Henry David Thoreau, Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, and others. He was a prolific writer and his work crossed many literary genres. During the 1980s, Sterling North enthusiasts created a Society to honor his literary contributions. Later they were able to acquire and restore his boyhood home in Edgerton to serve as a museum. Annually, the Sterling North Society orchestrates a book festival that attracts authors from across the country.
This year, Edgerton Schools, with the help of a small grant from the Rural Schools Collaborative Grants in Place initiative, added a new dimension to the Sterling North annual book festival: a Rascal Read-A-Thon.
Folks were welcomed to the Rascal Read-A-Thon!
The event was held on November 4, 2015, at Edgerton Community School. According to Edgerton teacher and Grants in Place recipient Sheila Fox, “the goal was to read the entire novel in a student-centered setting in ONE day!” Many readers contributed, taking 5 minute segments, while various classes attended the event, listening to the famous Sterling North story, an autobiographical account of a year from his own boyhood when he raised an orphaned raccoon. Community members took their turn, along with teachers and students, reading throughout the day.
According to Fox, “It was a wonderful experience and really brought the story of Rascal and the life of our very own Sterling North to everyone’s attention for one day!” The read-a-thon is a great example of place-based education, a curricular reform effort designed to make authentic connections among students who share a particular place on earth. In this case, Edgerton students learned about the contribution of their own community to America’s literary heritage. The Rural Schools Collaborative is pleased to have been a part of this effort.
A community member takes part in the Read-A-Thon event. For more on Shiela Fox's Grants in Place award go here.
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