WESTFIELD, NJ - A group of Westfield students had the opportunity to experience the publishing industry first-hand in New York City in June.

Penguin Classics book publishers hosted six Roosevelt Intermediate School students from Matthew Kalafat's eighth-grade Language Arts classes for a day of filming in their SoHo offices.

“Penguin is creating a new eBook version of the John Steinbeck classic 'Of Mice and Men' and has been contemplating ways to enhance the educator edition of the e-novel,” explained Kalafat. “Penguin felt that students discussing the themes of the novel and their reactions to those themes would be a good way to show how the book could be used in the classroom."

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Why Westfield students? Penguin took notice of a New York Times article published in January that detailed the Westfield /Plainfield Exchange program, in which students from both communities jointly studied the Steinbeck classic. Penguin officials reached out to Roosevelt Assistant Principal Derrick Nelson with their idea, and Nelson acknowledged the value in having Roosevelt students involved in such a project - one that could potentially be seen and shared worldwide with the electronic education edition of the book.

Students in Kalafat's class study the book through the prism of the American Dream and shared with Penguin their visions of both the American Dream and their personal dreams, as well as analysis of the novel's characters and messages.

Each of the six students - Rebecca Pariente, Maya Jonsson, Greta Crendall, Evan Rooney, Owen Murray, and Max Carle - were interviewed and filmed for about 30 minutes in Manhattan by a professional film crew, with Kalafat also in attendance. The film director asked the students questions documentary-style. When they were not filming, students met with Penguin officials who shared insights into the publishing world.