• March 3Graduation on 24 May 2018

Speak

Photo+Via+Macmillan+Press+Under+Creative+Commons+License
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Speak

Photo Via Macmillan Press Under Creative Commons License

Photo Via Macmillan Press Under Creative Commons License

Photo Via Macmillan Press Under Creative Commons License

Photo Via Macmillan Press Under Creative Commons License

Renee Sadler, Life and Times Writer

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High Schools teach the novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson to their students. This February the book, which was written nineteen years ago, was adapted into a graphic novel form with the enthusiastic support of the author.

Higley English teacher Tommie Byrd believes adapting written novels into graphic novels is a good idea. She says, “Sometimes that’s the only way that some kids will be exposed to literature.”  Reading doesn’t come easily to all students, and some simply aren’t interested. Ms. Byrd says, “It’s good for visual learners who need pictures to better understand what’s happening.”

Speak is the tale of a freshman, Melinda Sordino, who was raped the summer before high school. Melinda is shunned by her peers and sinks into depression. The novel illustrates a tale of rape, PTSD, and isolation.

The story is an important one for teens to hear. Students should be encouraged to learn from literature and talk about real world problems. Mrs. Byrd believes, “With literature you can learn from experiences without actually having to go through them yourself.” This gives students the opportunity to have a better understanding of what rape is. They also have a chance to contemplate others’ experiences in general.

When Ms. Byrd was asked why she feels that Speak is an important novel to teach she replied “I think it addresses a really important topic, and not just the rape and the PTSD but the isolation. Kids need to know that they can reach out and get help. It’s happening. The less we talk about it the more kids feel like they have to hide.” Higley students have said they agree that they don’t feel safe sharing their experiences.

Higley Student, Hannah O’hara, mentions that she thinks, “Many people just have friends because they have one or two things in common but they can’t talk to them.” Part of the reason for this isolation is students don’t feel comfortable bringing up what they think makes them different. Dismissing that rape happens and not having these conversations, whether in school or home, makes victims feel like they can’t reach out and get help and or justice. Ms. Byrd says that in her personal experience she has had students open up after having these conversations while reading Speak. “I have had girls come out and tell me things that have happened and they can talk to their parents and get help from the counselors for the first time when they had never told anyone else before. And I get to share my own story.”

Hannah mentioned that she thinks, “More guys should read Speak. In my class a lot of girls read it but I think the message is more towards guys.” Many boys don’t even understand all that rape can be. Ms. Byrd says that in her own classes her male students have been surprised at certain cases and that they were considered rape. Many boys think it’s just someone hiding behind a dumpster and jumping out to harm a women but in most cases the rapist was someone the victim knows. Boys need to be educated about rape just as much if not more than girls because if boys are not aware of what they’re doing they’ll never stop.

Rape is an ongoing problem in today’s world and victims do not feel that they can stand up for themselves because of the cultural taboo of discussing or acknowledging rape. Students and teachers at Higley agree that students need to be educated so they know what rape looks like and how to get help. Teaching books like Speak in schools is a first step towards opening up this kind of discussion and building awareness.?“

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