On Feb. 19, Campus and West middle school students walked through the front door of their schools and into a medieval castle, complete with stone walls, turrets and knights in shining armor. They also ran into a King Richard lookalike (aka Dr. Harry Bull, superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools) and a modern-day mayor – Mayor Ron Rakowsky of Greenwood Village. It was all part of the kick-off of the “One Book” campaign at both schools, where students and staff members all read the same book, just for fun.
“I think how they set it up is cool,” said Ashley Garcia, a seventh-grader at West. “It makes walking into school fun. It looks interesting.”
Capturing students’ interest was part of the build-up to the “One Book” reveal, which occurred via video on Feb. 17. A team of students, staff members and parents selected “The Youngest Templar, Keeper of the Grail,” the first in a three-book, historical adventure series by award-winning author Michael P. Spradlin, who will visit Campus on Feb. 25 and West on Feb. 26.
Every Campus and West student and staff member gets a free, autographed copy of the book, thanks to a $1,000 grant to each school 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, private donors and sponsors and the PTCOs at both schools are supporting the project, which is designed to build community and promote conversation around a shared story.
It’s a story West seventh-grader Cristina Inboden has already read.
“It’s really good,” said Inboden, who doesn’t usually like medieval-themed books. “I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something new. I definitely recommend the book. I didn’t want to put it down at first. I felt a real connection to the character.”
The main character is Tristan, a young orphan who is a squire to one of the Knights Templar. He is ordered to carry a sacred relic – the Holy Grail – to safety while being pursued by evil knights and secret agents of the king.
That scenario apparently appeals to middle school boys and girls, who rushed to pick up their copy of the book on Feb. 19. They also got a bookmark that lists the special activities both schools are doing, such as assemblies, a flash mob and QR codes that students can scan with a smart phone or tablet to learn more about the historical aspects of the book.
This is the first year for the “One Book, One West” program at West Middle School and the third year for the “One Book, One Campus” campaign at Campus Middle School.