Wilson students share thoughts on summer readings


Graphic by Anya Herzberg

Zoe Friedman

This summer, Wilson assigned various short story reading assignments to students of all grades. They were created in hopes of better preparing students for an unprecedented year of online learning ahead. While students reflect positively in this regard, there have been varying opinions on the task of completing the assigned texts itself. 

Freshman were assigned the text “The Summer of Ice Cream” by Tope Folarin. Sophomores were expected to read “The Rules of Game” by Amy Tan. Juniors were given “The School” by Donald Barthelme, while “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker was assigned to seniors. Each student had to write an essay reflecting their thoughts on the readings, which was due on the first day of the school year. 

The text assigned to seniors, “Everyday Use,” is about an African American family living in the South during the late 60s. The differences in generational thinking shown in the short story book relates to clashes today and people’s opinions on the BLM movement. Senior Ziaire Beckham said the assignment was “nothing [he] was overjoyed to do.” However, the internal conflict felt by the characters prompted students to relate to contemporary issues such as racial tensions, to which Beckham agreed. “It made me think of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

While some texts deliver messages that were rather common to students, juniors still felt intrigued by the reading. “The School” is a short story about repeated deaths in a teacher’s classroom setting, with an overarching theme about the educational system and the meaning of life. Most readers, including myself, thought the story was strange and difficult to interpret. However, junior Natalie Sipress says the story was “enjoyable because it was a nice change from other texts and we’ve never studied a dark comedy.” Whether the story is a dark comedy or not is debatable, since it can be interpreted in many different ways; the fact that students were motivated to argue for their own interpretation proves the success of the summer assignment in promoting in-depth analysis and thinking. 

The assignment for sophomores, “The Rules of Game”, is about a girl named Waverly. A prodigy chess player, Waverly has her dreams held back by her mother Lindo. Sophomore Margot Nissan has mixed feelings on the text and isn’t sure if she liked the book or not. “The storyline was interesting, but I am not one who enjoys a whole lot of description or metaphors.” While the story was based on the metaphor of moves one can make socially being represented in a game of chess,I thought it made the story intriguing.

Freshmen were given the reading “The Summer of Ice Cream.” The story is about a kid and his father’s struggles with discrimination and getting a job in America. Freshman Sabrina Bergeron says the short story “connected to current events and how immigrants come to America to improve their lives, but no one talks about how difficult it is.” She also says the reading felt “jammed,” and that a longer reading would’ve had the potential of a stronger plot. Though the story was short, it got its points about racism and discrimination in America across, using a personal anecdote to reflect these themes.

Overall, students had mixed feelings on their summer assignments. However, these readings were assigned to give students an opportunity to prepare for the English class they are enrolled in the year 2020-2021, and the consensus is that they did a good job at it.