Cape Cod Academy Middle School students were in the presence of several greats yesterday: Newbery Medal Honor author Lauren Wolk, New York Times’ bestselling author Sara Pennypacker and two local military veterans, Bob Silverberg and Max Money.
The event was held in the school’s Science Lecture Hall which was filled with students in grades 5 through 8. Called “Building Bridges through Books: Conversations on Peace,” the event was coordinated by CCA’s Deb Hobday, librarian and technology teacher in partnership with Cape Cod’s Veterans for Peace chapter and Lisa Nagel, former Children’s and Young Adult Librarian at the Osterville Village Library.
The authors described how their books weave through messages of struggle and peace against the backdrops of war. One of Wolf Hollow’s lead characters, Toby, is an isolated vet who has returned from WWI and befriends a young girl who lives near the woods he calls home. In Pax, a young man is forced to abandon his pet fox once his father enlists in the military and cannot take his pet with him. The story tells of both the boy and the fox as they traverse hundreds of miles to try to find one another again.
Ms. Pennypacker described the process she went through to identify the animal – a fox - that would best represent her audience – middle school aged children. She also described how compelled she felt to tell the story of war’s effects on children and animals – often innocent bystanders to war. “When elephants fight, the grass suffers,” she said.
“We teach students to learn from the experiences of other people and to understand both the complexity of global issues and their very personal effects on individuals,” said Tom Trigg, Head of School. “Bringing these authors and veterans together with students for candid conversations about war is a form of experiential learning; it brings the issues to life and spurs a deeper understanding that lasts."
Mr. Bob Silverberg is a retired Navy veteran who served in WWII. He shared a poem he wrote about an incident he witnessed in Okinawa but wrote several decades later. Mr. Max Money is a retired Marine who served in the Korean War. Both are active members with Veterans for Peace and discussed with students how they can individually and collectively make a difference for a more peaceful community and world. Students engaged the panel in an active Q&A session with questions ranging from how a book gets published to how they can support veterans when they return home.
“We were very excited to welcome Ms. Wolk to campus this past fall as the culmination of our 6th grade class’s Newbery Medal reading series and again this week,” said Deb Hobday. “Ms. Wolk and Ms. Pennypacker have generously given their time to speak with our students in great length about the writing process, and character and story development. We are very honored they came to campus to speak with our students.”
Cape Cod Academy is a K through 12 independent day school in Osterville, MA. It is proudly celebrating its fortieth year of educating students.