Cranford H.S. Introduces Intergenerational Book Club

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" was one of the books discussed at the first CHS Intergenerational Book Club meeting. Credits: Kat Ruane

CRANFORD, NJ - On March 14, Cranford High School’s Intergenerational Book Club held its inaugural meeting, with more than 40 people attending.

Five different books were read, with each discussion group led by a CHS student leader and overseen by a CHS English teacher. The various groups were composed of students, teachers and members from the community.

“The Intergenerational Book Club provides an opportunity for all members of the Cranford community to come together to discuss relevant texts,” Marlene Stoto, who oversaw the group reading "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," said. “The discussions are led by students who are responsible for developing thought-provoking questions to facilitate the discussion.”

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The club started shortly after 3 p.m., drawing in about 15 students and 15 outside members, and ran for about an hour. Light refreshments were served, many of which were brought by the community members.

In addition to "Henrietta Lacks," "The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Pearce" was also examined and overseen by teacher Nicole Conter.

“I appreciated the ability to speak candidly, challenge, and be challenged, especially alongside students I teach in the classroom everyday,” Conter said. “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace takes place right in Union County, which makes it an incredibly relevant text.”

Other books include "The Boys in the Boat," "Searching for Augusta: The Forgotten Angel of Bastogne" and "The Heart and the Fist." These groups were overseen by teachers Kathleen Shaw, Jennifer Hilborn and Robert Ciarrocca respectively.

“Taking part in this club has allowed me to discuss books beyond the typical confines of the classroom,” Keith Brown, a student leader of a discussion group, said. “I was able to create questions and facilitate discussion with people of all ages, which definitely gave me a new perspective on the readings.”

“It was so rewarding to see the students’ passion as they freely shared their thoughts and opinions,” Stoto said. “It was truly an invigorating afternoon, and I cannot wait for the next one!”

The next meeting of the Intergenerational Book Club will be held on April 18 at 3 p.m. in the CHS library.

Editor's Note: Kat Ruane is a high school student participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Cranford.

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