“Oh my gosh, I’m really excited!” said Campus Middle School sixth-grader Hannah Meg Weinraub, after meeting best-selling author Peter Lerangis and getting an autographed copy of his book The Colossus Rises. It’s the third book in Lerangis’ popular young-adult, action-adventure series The Seven Wonders.
Fellow sixth-grader Caroline Plumleigh felt the same way. “I’m excited to read this because the plot sounds scary and mysterious and I’m excited to see what happens,” Plumleigh said.
Lerangis, who has written 160 books which have sold more than 5.5 million copies, visited Campus for the 2015 kickoff of the 1 Book, 1 Campus program, launched last year by Campus teacher librarian Derek Phelan.
“It builds community around a story,” Phelan said of the program where students and staff all read the same book, just for fun. The program is supported by what Phelan calls an "army" of dedicated parent volunteers, as well as a $1,000 grant from the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation which seeks to impact all district students, encourage innovation in the classroom and build long-term relationships in the community. In addition, Comfort Dental donated 1,000 copies of The Colossus Rises.
Students get a free copy of the book which they can keep, or read and return. Campus will then “pay it forward” and share the books with another school next year.
This year, a visit from Lerangis made the kickoff even more meaningful. “It’s important to have that author-reader connection,” Phelan said.
Lerangis did a personal presentation for students and the community, sharing funny photos and anecdotes from his childhood and college years. He attended Harvard University with the likes of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Lerangis majored in biochemistry, but then worked as a paralegal, actor and singer, before becoming a serious writer. He told the students he loved writing from an early age and used to scribble novels in a notebook during math class. During his humorous, high-energy presentation, he encouraged students to pursue their passions, even when things get tough.
Sixth-grader Sabrina Thomas got the message. “He said to keep trying, don’t give up.”