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Danville High School community will read ‘Long Way Down’

By EMILY BARRINGER

Danville High School

Many teenages hate reading. It’s almost impossible to get some students to read. This year, Danville High School decided to take on the daunting task of getting every student to read one book in their initiative of a school-wide read.

But will having a school-wide read actually get students reading and perhaps even excited to be reading? That’s the question Danville High School is asking, and they’re hoping Jason Reynold’s book, “Long Way Down,” will be the answer.

“Long Way Down” is a book written in verse that explores gun violence and themes of revenge. It tells the story of a teenage boy whose brother is and killed and must make a decision about what he will do about it.

Haley Ralston, principal at DHS, was on-board with a school-wide read from the moment the school librarian, Cassie Dickison, approached her with the idea. “At a minimum, any time you put a book in students hands and students are reading it’s a win,” Ralston says.

After the idea of a school-wide read was put out, the decision left to make was what book the students would read. Ralston says, “We  read several different books trying to find the right book for our student body and staff. We know the book we have chosen is it”.

While students won’t get the book until February, a few students have already read the book. Senior Max Turpin says, “I thought it was a great idea (to read the book). This book is very easy to get sucked into.”

Some students who didn’t like the idea of reading as a school have had a change of heart after they’ve read this book. Devin Murphy, Freshman at Danville High School, says, “I thought that book wouldn’t be as interesting as it is.”

Similarly, senior Ryan Jackson says, “I thought it would be boring, but now that I know what book everyone will be reading, I think they’ll enjoy it.”  

Some students absolutely loved this book, such as Max Turpin, who says it is “honestly one of the best books I’ve read. It tells an emotionally charged story with a lot of unique storytelling elements.”

Students such as sophmore Keeley McKnight have found a deeper meaning in this book. McKnight says the book changed the way she views the world. “That what we believe to be true, in terms of like expectations and responsibility, is different/more complicated than we thought.”

Overall, students seem to feel good about the book chosen for the school-wide read. Jackson says, “I feel as though the school as a whole will truly enjoy the book if they give it a chance.”

DHS students will each get their own copy of the book in mid-February to keep. Community members interested in the book can get a copy from the local library, which has purchased several copies.

 

Emily Barringer is a sophomore journalism student at Danville High School.

Sophomore Keeley McKnight poses with her copy of Long Way Down.