Renowned author James Howe recently spoke to seventh-grade ELA students at Briarcliff Middle School about the inspiration and meaning of his book “The Misfits,” which tells the story of a group of students who attempt to improve the culture of their middle school.
Students prepared questions for Mr. Howe based on what they read and discussed in class. The novel, which was required summer reading for the students, tells of how four middle school outcasts who are often called the worst names by other students find each other and use the rallying cry, "Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will break our spirit" to effect change at the school. Mr. Howe read and discussed select passages from the novel as well as some of his other works. Some BMS students were invited to read a script from his latest, not-yet-released novel based on one of the characters in “The Misfits.”
Together Mr. Howe and the students explored the topic of bullying and the importance of respecting others’ differences by having students describe the characteristics of different groups of students at BMS. Many students contributed their questions and thoughts, and the experience enhanced their understanding of the text and of the complex social issues that middle school students face. The BMS PTA sponsored this event.