Governor Livingston High School hosted a literary lunch on November 9, featuring the book Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson.  Sixty students, faculty, and community members met to discuss the book as part of a year-long district wide community service learning initiative, sponsored through a generous grant from the Berkeley Heights Education Foundation.  The grant, which was the first annual recipient of the Marsha Miller Grant for Outstanding Innovation, is designed to raise student and community awareness about the promotion of education and literacy in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and, by extension, in other impoverished regions of the world as a means to promote peace and political stability.  From the book jacket: “In 1993 Greg Mortenson drifted into an impoverished Pakistan village in the Karakoram mountains after a failed attempt to climb K2.  Moved by the inhabitants’ kindness, he promised to return and build a school.  .  .  .  Over the next decade Mortenson built not just one but fifty-five schools—especially for girls—in the forbidding terrain that gave birth to the Taliban.  His story is at once a riveting adventure and a testament to the power of the humanitarian spirit.”  Since the publication of Three Cups of Tea in 2003, schools nationwide have been collecting pennies and organizing fundraisers in support of this effort. Mortenson believes that the pennies are really a metaphor.  “A penny buys a pencil in Afghanistan and Pakistan and empowers a child to read, write, and think critically.”

A major objective of the Pennies for Peace grant is to foster humanitarianism in the Berkeley Heights district’s students and to encourage a commitment to lifelong service.  The Governor Livingston literary lunch was the second in the district; the first was held on October 13 at
Columbia Middle School, where 7th grade students read and discussed the young adult version of the book.  An informational session about the history of the region was also held at the high school on October 21.  Additional activities include collaboration with the elementary schools to create lessons with the Three Cups of Tea picture book version of the book, titled Listen to the Wind, fundraising events, and a speaker, Lt. Brian Humphreys, who commanded an infantry platoon in Iraq in 2004.  He subsequently led a team of Marine Corps military advisers, which served with an Afghan National Army rifle company in eastern Afghanistan in 2005. After leaving active duty in 2006, Humphreys served as a civil affairs officer with a Marine Corps Reserve unit in Washington D.C. for three years.


Left: front to back, Marilyn Esness, community member; Megan Kingsley, junior; Phil Reilly,
Right: front to back, Laurie Scott, supervisor  (not shown except for back of head);
Donna Romankow Boyd, BHEF trustee; Genevieve Caffrey, sophomore