1999/2000 School Year


  • Velma Oliver, a student at Mayo, was all excited when she came back from Christmas vacation. She had read the Open Book selection Madelia by Jan Spivey Gilchrist to her family during their Christmas party. Then she got her cousins together and performed the story. She reports that she received high praise from her family for her efforts. There were twelve people at the party.

  • Diana Stewart, mother of Deatra Barnes at Wells Preparatory visited the Open Book Program during the second week in January. "My daughter loves this program," stated Mrs. Stewart. "It's the only thing she talks about. I ask her, 'don't you have other classes?' 'Yes,' she says, 'but Mr. Kouch (teacher/drama artist) is so nice. He never yells.'" Mrs. Steward is impressed with how the Open Book activities have helped Deatra with her reading and spelling.

  • When Shekeria Gatewoods and Rob Scott from Raymond Elementary came to school on Monday, January 10, they were all excited. That weekend, they had attended an event connected with the Chicago Housing Authority's (CHA) initiative to give books to each child living in a CHA building. Darwin McBeth Walton, author of Dance, Kayla! , was a guest author at this event. "We read your book," the enthusiastic students said as they met the author. The event organizers arranged to have the students' pictures taken with Ms. Walton. Then on January 12th, the students got to meet Ms. Walton again when she came to Raymond as part of the "meet the author" portion of the Open Book Program.

  • All four of Pamela Ward's children are enrolled in the Open Book Program. Her oldest son, Ryan, 12, was the first to join. He was so enthusiastic about the program that Daniel, 10, also enrolled. Then the youngest children Julian, 9, and Cynthia, 8, begged to join. "I love this program so much," says Mrs. Ward. "I've never seen them excited about doing something after school before."

  • Raymond Teachers Luverta Wilson and Mildred Johnson are so enthused by what they have seen in the Open Book Program, that they are now using the Literary Circle method in their regular classrooms. "Open Book taught me a lot," stated Ms. Wilson, "I've learned to break down the book by using the Literary Circle roles like the Discussion Leader and the Connector and the Word Wizard." Ms. Johnson said: "Open Book has given me new ideas about how I can do things for my classroom."
  • Glennette Tiley Turner, author of Running For Our Lives, was extremely impressed by the quality of the dramatic presentations created by the students in the Open Book Program. In a presentation of a scene about the main characters' journey through Canada to their new home, for example, the students from Wells Prep set up four chairs to simulate a wagon. As the wagon moved along via leg and scoot power, they sang an original song that began "Ain't gonna pick no more cottonŠ" During the Mayo School presentation, some students stood like trees while other students became characters in the book, fleeing for their lives through a forest.

  • One of the highlights of author Glennette Tiley Turner's visits were the anecdotes that she shared about the famous people she interviewed during her research on various books. These included her meetings with Alex Haley and with a surviving relative of Daniel H. Williams, the namesake of Williams School.

  • The family in Running For Our Lives had to overcome obstacles in order to achieve their goal of freedom. The introduction to one journal exercise featured the story of Herb Kent a pioneer African American Disc Jockey and Broadcast Hall of Fame member who coined the term "Dusties." While at Northwestern University in the 1950s, Kent was told he would never succeed in broadcasting because he was a Negro. Kent proved them all wrong. The secret to his success is his ability to ARTICULATE, ENUNCIATE AND PROJECT. The student's loved the story and the words. The drama artists only have to ask - "What do you have to do?" and the students reply in unison: "ARTICULATE!‹ ENUNCIATE!‹PROJECT!"

  • Wells Prep Student Eric Evans returned to the program after an absence caused by a fractured leg. The students welcomed Eric back by making his cast a focal point of one of their skits. In the skit Eric is having a terrible time getting around until another boy, Dominique, hands him some "magic crutches." Eric starts using the crutches and suddenly feels a lot better. He tosses the crutches aside and walks quickly and unaided across the stage.

  • The students at Mayo School did a journal exercise in which they wrote letters to Open Book Executive Director Marrice Coverson. Here are some excerpts: "ŠThank you for bringing Open Book to wonderful Mayo SchoolŠI wouldn't read more if it wasn't for youŠ" -- Malisa St. Clair
    "ŠThank you for having Open Book at our school. I really enjoy it. I hope we can have it againŠ." -- Angel Buckles
    "ŠThis Open Book Program is really funŠ" -- Mary Friend "ŠOpen Book is greatŠ" --Warren Jackson

  • Beverly Colon from Williams School is a gifted student who is reading above grade level. "This program has been great for her," states her teacher Brenda Wall. "She loves it. The bigger the challenge, the better she likes it. She's never bored in Open Book‹never for one moment!"

Other responses/Students:

  • LaTosha Lewis: "I am now able to read fluently ... I used to read word to word. "

  • Nikole Wallace: "Having an opportunity to role-play has made me less stage-frightened. I enjoyed the program because I was always encouraged not to give up because of my limited vocabulary. "

  • Nijetta Hill: "I enjoyed the program because one cannot do the things we do in a regular classroom - such as make up songs about the stories and role play -- I think it is a good program for after school."

  • Sydell Blue: "I was motivated by the artist -- would like to be a participant of the program again; it is fun and educational."

Other responses/Teachers:

  • French Teacher: Referring to her 8th grade student, Nuda Stewart: "I have noticed a calmer child; one who is more respectful and who is also putting more effort into classwork."

  • Mrs. N. Quinn, 4th Grade Teacher: "The most positive aspects (1) I saw students open book to read that prior had no contact with books. (2) It must be a very positive program -- children really want to come -- not always true of other programs. (3) Excitement about going on field trips. "

  • Mrs. Dukes - Assistant Principal: "...the students were inspired to love reading which was shown by their enthusiasm."

  • Bernadine Jones, Teacher: " It is indeed the most successful program I have ever worked with. Great enthusiasm n the art of the students, great attendanceŠ"

  • At Williams School, teacher Brenda Wall is impressed with the improvement of Open Book participant Toni Colon. "Toni has made a drastic improvement in her reading since she joined the program, " states Ms. Wall. "She came in during the later part of 1999 and discovered her hidden talents through acting. She is extremely creative as well as dramatic."

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2000/2001 School Year




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