Every Friday for the first 15 minutes of each block, the entire student body of Cape Coral High School does one thing together - read.
And they are all reading the same book, something that has not only been a reading project, but one that has promoted camaraderie among students.
It is a reading initiative started by Principal Matt Mederios, not only to improve literacy, but to promote knowledge on geography and political issues.
Cape Coral High School literacy coach Cher Hollar updates the storyboard for the book, A Long Way Gone, the school is reading together. The storyboard was made by Cape’s original athletic director Bill Beatty.
"The book is called 'A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier' written by Ishmael Beah," he said. He learned about it on UTube.
The book was published in 2007, and provides a firsthand account of the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone and the ongoing plight of child soldiers in conflicts worldwide.
"We had a few students last year that approached me about the Kony 2012 Movement. That movement is all about Joseph Kony, a rebel leader in Africa who uses young boys and trains them to be soldiers. There was a big push to have him apprehended, and reminded me a lot of Ishmuel."
He said he hoped this literacy initiative would get students into reading, especially students that would not pick up a book to read.
"I hope this will generate interest - reading during leisure time - and encourage students to read for pleasure," he said.
Mederios said Cape Coral High had D.E.A.R. time, which stands for Drop Everything and Read, in use already, used as independent reading time.
"I thought it would be cool to get them (students) on the same page as a school community, so they could discuss the same book and the same issues," he said.
Even though they only started last week a lot of students are interested in the initiative.
"Last week we read chapter one and the response I've received from teachers and students is very positive," he said. "They told me they didn't want to stop reading."
They will continue with a chapter a week and finish the 21-chapter book in April.
"The goal is when we are done to have the author come to the school, and we have reached out to him and are waiting for a response," he said.
Muollo National Merit Semifinalist
Killian Muollo is currently a senior in the International Baccalaureate Program at Cape Coral High School. Officials with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation have announced that she is a semifinalist in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship Program, and is the only student in any of the Cape Coral public, charter or private high schools to receive the prestigious recognition, according to Mederios.
Muollo now has the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring.
"We are extremely proud of Killian and her accomplishment," said Mederios in a prepared statement. "This is a testament to her hard work and dedication to maximizing her potential and making her education a priority."
NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2013.
According to Mederios, all finalists will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis.
About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 240 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specified criteria. In addition, about 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance about 4,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.