Twenty copies of “Just Mercy” are available to borrow from the Middle School Office beginning Thursday, March 12. The MS community will gather Tuesday, April 21 for dinner and discussion. A screening of the movie based on the book is Friday, May 1.
By Connie Fink, Fifth Grade Social Studies Teacher
Katie Sandidge, Sixth Grade English Teacher
And Jeff Greenfield, Head of Middle School
Have you ever read a book or heard a story that immediately changed the course of your life? Well, that is what happened to Fifth Grade Social Studies Teacher Connie Fink and Sixth Grade English Teacher Katie Sandidge when they read Bryan Stevenson’s book “Just Mercy” Never had either of us read a book that could simultaneously be so gripping, heart-wrenching, upsetting, and uplifting all at the same time. As soon as each of us finished the text, we knew that our work as educators could never be the same. We knew that our work needed to include the promotion of justice, mercy, and forgiveness in ways both big and small.
The book “Just Mercy” chronicles the efforts of Bryan Stevenson to dismantle what he sees as the broken United States justice system that unfairly disadvantages the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed. He’s dedicated the last 30 years of his life to working on behalf of people who have been wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced for crime. The book introduces readers to the deeply troubling and personal stories of the men and women who have suffered unjust penalties in our system of mass incarceration. Readers cannot help but be moved by these stories and called to purposeful action.
Recently, Random House adapted the original book into a young adult edition. Given this new level of accessibility for young people, we are excited to announce our first Middle School community read. Thanks to Head of Middle School Jeff Greenfield, beginning Thursday, March 12, twenty copies of the book will be available for any fifth- through eighth-grade family to check out from the Middle School Office. We hope all who are interested will get their hands on a copy and read it by Tuesday, April 21. From 5 to 7 that evening, we will host a discussion and a potluck dinner for students and families in the Gordon Multipurpose Room who have completed the book. Then, on Friday, May 1, we will host a screening of the movie “Just Mercy.” Naturally, these gathering dates are a bit tentative given how the impact of the coronavirus unfolds.
We do want to offer you a fair warning that parts of this text are quite difficult to read and may not be suitable for all students and families. If you’d like some guidance as to which chapters might be most harrowing to read, please see either Fink or Sandidge for further conversation.
We hope that this community read is the first of many with our Middle School families. Through this shared experience we hope to learn together and deepen our collective resolve to help build a better world. We hope that you’ll consider participating.