Community read-along events take place every year in communities all over the country, though normally in communities much larger than Gobles such as San Diego, Boston, or Kalamazoo. Teachers in the English Department at Gobles MS/HS felt our own community would support such a program, and invited community to participate in what they hope will become an annual event.
Event organizer Corey Harbaugh explained the event sends an important message about the values of the Gobles community. "We know smart communities are communities that value education," Harbaugh said. "And reading and discussing books is one of the most important activities a community can do to both expand learning, but also to celebrate literacy and the learning that takes place when people read and talk together."
Harbaugh said he was thrilled the first event had so many participants, and hopes even more will join in during summers to come.
"I think we started a good thing here," he said. "And it will be exciting to see it grow in years to come. (High school English teacher) Pam Westcott is already thinking about the book selection for next summer. That's a sure sign of success."
Tremendous support for the project came from the Gobles and Kendall United Methodist Church communities, led by Pastor Nelson Hall, who learned of the event when it was announced at the Gobles MS/HS literacy program last May. Hall rallied to get his congregation involved. Thirty-six of the participants in the project came from the UMC congregations.
"As soon as I heard about this project I knew I wanted the church to get involved," Hall said. "Projects like this bring the community together and get us talking about important topics for our community."
Outcasts United tells the true story of a small Georgia town transformed by the arrival of refugees from around the world, and the work of a soccer coach to unite boys from many countries into a soccer team that would change lives. The book explores such important topical issues as immigration, the experiences of refugees all over the world and in our own country, racial and cultural exchanges, the power of mentors for young people, the role of sports in our society, and impact of globalization on local communities, among others.
Donated copies of the book will now be available for teachers at Gobles MS/HS to use in middle and high school classes for years to come.