Literacy event sparks student, community interest

Eastern Tech reading program capped by evening of cross-generational reflection
Posted on 03/13/2018
Cross Generational Reading Program 2018

On Wednesday, March 7, students, faculty and community members gathered to discuss the impact of the book Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by Matthew Tobin Anderson.

The non-fiction work juxtaposes the bleak historical backdrop of the siege of Leningrad during WWII with the beauty of Dmitri Shostakovich’s music, which was born out of the war-time suffering. The book was a 2016 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults finalist and has since become a popular choice for readers of all ages.

Ms. Amy Thonnings, an English teacher at Eastern Tech, organized the event as a cross-generational showcase of the book’s literary merit, significant historical implications and meaningful connections across disciplines. “Ms. Thonnings’ efforts in planning and executing the program are the culmination of several months of development and preparation,” said Eastern Tech English department chair, Stacey Kalwa. “Amy made an outstanding book choice, secured the speakers and designed the program. She was able to get an amazing door prize of BSO tickets and created an interactive, tech-enhanced literacy program,” Kalwa added.

The evening was a culmination of Eastern Tech’s Cross-Disciplinary/Cross-Generational Spring Reading Program and saw nearly 100 community members attend to engage in discussion, refreshments, and entertainment all centered around the thought-provoking and timely book. Eastern Tech seniors Zach Soper and Jeff Spencer, who read the book and attended the event, each spoke to the lasting impact of the evening hinging on activities which highlighted the music of Shostakovich as well as the reality of the grizzly historical context. “While the book was not necessarily an easy read, no one who attended the event can deny the fruitful spirit of the night,” said Soper. Spencer commented, “Listening to segments of the symphony by Shostakovich provided an added insight into the miseries of war, but also illuminated the power of the human spirit to overcome. This night united people through shared experience, not merely a love for literature.”