“Different languages, different food, different customs. That's our neighborhood: wild and tangled and colorful. Like the best kind of garden.” ― Katherine Applegate, Wishtree
Lower School students, faculty and families celebrated community, wishes, love and acceptance this week as third graders completed the read of Wishtree by Katherine Applegate. The event highlighted the strength of the Episcopal community and the connections to the world beyond. The celebration was truly a community effort with special guests, a message from the author and even a Lower School version of the wish tree.
“This book has influenced me to be more welcoming to new people or to people who just want to play with me at recess. That is why The Wishtree is my new favorite book.” Evelyn Zartman
“I also love the book because it teaches me to love my neighbors. It also teaches me to be kind no matter what happens, like when you’re in the classroom and someone is having trouble you could help them.” Ada Mere
Chief Paul reflected on his own life’s path in speaking to students, offering an example of how he went into law enforcement while a close friend chose an entirely different path. He left students with three tips for staying on the path to success:
Students also had the opportunity to hear from another special guest – Wishtree author Katherine Applegate. The Newbery Medal-winning author took time to send students a personal video message that was as inspiring as the book itself. “My wish for all of you is a world full of welcomers,” she said.
Episcopal faculty and families were involved throughout the community read process. Parents read along with students and many adults were as moved by the themes as their children. The entire Wishtree experience was made possible because of the support of the Parents’ Guild. The group purchased the books as part of the annual Parents’ Guild wish list.
In addition, the 2018 Wishtree community read was dedicated in memory of O. Miles Pollard, Jr. Mr. Pollard, a former Episcopal trustee, had a love of the outdoors that made the Wishtree read a fitting tribute. Mr. Pollard’s wife Mary and their son Steele Pollard were on hand to commemorate the occasion. “Many may recognize the Pollard name because the Lower School library is the Mary Furlow Pollard Library, which was made possible through the gift of her son O. Miles Pollard, Jr. and his wife Mary Pollard in 1984. A photographic portrait of Mary Furlow Pollard hangs in the library,” said Director of Advancement Andy Spencer. Several copies of Wishtree for the Pollard Library's collection have been inscribed with a message honoring Mr. Pollard’s contributions to the Episcopal community.
Episcopal students are now extending the love and acceptance of Wishtree to students beyond Woodland Ridge. Lower School Librarian Catherine Word purchased copies of the book for third graders at St. James, St. Luke’s and Trinity. Next week, students will participate in a Skype discussion on the book’s themes to foster a stronger sense of community.
With a Lower School theme of Love Your Neighbor and a school-wide Quest for Peace program, Wishtree was a fitting read for this school year. The community read was one of those moments where everything just seemed to come together. The connections, the special guests and having the support of family made the experience one students will likely remember for some time. As they grow to become tomorrow’s leaders, we hope their wishes for kindness, peace and harmony come true.
Did you read Wishtree with your child? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you thought about the book.