Tripp Middle School

Several months ago students in English classes were challenged to write a letter to an author about how the author’s book had impacted them in some way . Several middle school students accepted the challenge and worked very hard reflecting on the author’s piece of literature and worked hard on writing their entry. These entries were sent to the National Headquarters for Letters About Literature. Several students from Tripp Middle School caught the attention of professional readers and were forwarded to the Maine Humanities Council as semi-finalists for the state. There were sixty four letters selected as semi-finalists in Division Level II (grades seven and eight). First and second place winners are announced in the contest as well as honorable mentions and semi-finalists. Semi-finalists from Tripp Middle School are as follows:

Rachel Doiron: grade eight, The Summer of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashare.

Caiden Leavitt: grade eight, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Another two of Tripp’s semi-finalist students also were chosen as two of seven honorable mentions for the state.

Jennifer Duguay: grade eight, Boy meets Boy by David Levithan.

Sarah McKeown: grade eight, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.

Honorable Mentions will be receiving certificates and all participants will be receiving discount coupons redeemable at bookstores around the state. Congratulations to all and we look forward to even more entries next year!

Jennifer Duguay

Tripp Middle School

Dec.4, 2003

Dear David Levithan:

As I’m writing to you today in class, I’m observing what I never would have if I hadn’t read your book, Boy Meets Boy. Students are crowding their ways down the hall wearing skirts, faded jeans, Abercrombie shirts, and hooded sweaters. Their voices are harmonizing into one lone note and their gazes are all focused in the same direction. If I hadn’t been exposed to something like your book, it would be easy to mistake this scene for “normal” and “the way it’s supposed to be”.

While reading Boy Meets Boy, I was suddenly jerked from the mist into pure reality. It felt as though I had been obliviously sleeping all these years. I was lost in similarity until your witty, diverse, and all too real characters entered and impacted my life.

Perhaps it was infinite Darlene, the cross-dresser/football player, who awakened me. On the other hand, maybe it was Paul, Tony, and Noah, the three, not just gay, but genuine people. Whoever the character was, he/she was different and not afraid to be. That’s when it started to dawn on me that most of us are. In some ways, I think we all have something completely different about ourselves that we are hesitant to share. We end up disguising that part of us to fit in with the crowd. I find that awful because differences are beautiful. Watching my peers walk down the hall, I can’t help but feel we’ve been smudged like play dough into a plastic mold.

Your story let me live in the life of Paul and his peers. I was able to experience what I hadn’t realized I’d been longing for, for so long. I was revealed many different lifestyles rather than hopelessly watching 321 people occupying the same one, as I’ve noticed my hypnotized classmates do.

The traits Boy Meets Boy graciously provided me with were variety, acceptance of other people, and bravery to be who I am today, Fm involved with sports/ musicals, the community newspaper, and student council, I am riot just one of these things and I am not only these things. I am confident this is true with all of us. We are so much more than we allow ourselves to be. Because we favor normality and appreciate relating to other people, we feel we can simply cut parts out of our life that others don’t share. Boy Meets Boy has allowed me and inspired me to live my life and only mine, to take risks, and to continue to express who I am day by day. Thank you very much for teaching me possibly the greatest thing of all; There is beauty in difference and difference in all.

With great respect,

Jennifer Duguay

Caiden Leavitt

Tripp Middle School

Dec. 4, 2003

Dear Harper Lee:

My cousin shoved a book in my hands, “Here, read this.” I read the title. To Kill A Mockingbird. The following days are just a blur to me of Scout, Jem, Atticus, Boo Radley, and their story. For those few days I was no longer in the 21st century, but had traveled back to the 1960’s.

This book was amazing. Woven together with the twists and turns of your impressions of characters, it kept you interested throughout Moreover, inside the interesting details and plots were threads of reality that I’ve been so naive to for my whole life.

Being brought up in a household where life seemed like kayaking on a calm lake rather than the wild waves of the ocean, I was oblivious to the fact that for some people that was far from normal. When I read the court scene and how a man was treated just because of the dark shade of his skin I was brought quickly into the world of the cruelty of human nature.

I always had the thought that everyone was equal and no one had any different way of thinking than that. However, reading this book opened my eyes from that dream. I realized that I am somewhat alone on my beliefs in a world swarmed with judging, prejudice, and biased people.

Then I thought about Boo Radley. He was the terrifying man that lived down the street, right? Yet, the story proved you wrong when be saved Jem. This unexpected turn of fate made me realize the mask we superglue on people’s faces and never take the time to peel it off and thus never really know them.

I was stunned and amazed at how many years I’d wasted putting the wrong label on so many people. I immediately wanted to run around and take them off, replacing them with fitting ones.

Even though I still believe that everyone is equal this book made me understand that not everyone thinks that way, It also inspired me to do something I never would have thought of before.

I want to show everyone what this book showed me, In the book I’ve seen how far we’ve come and how long a road we have to go, but what I want to do is make that road smoother. I know that this one book’s veracity helped me see the broader picture of life. Therefore, why can’t one voice, my voice, help others be exposed to what this book brought to my life? Some people might have taken for granted this book’s meaning, but I appreciate you helping me demolish my ignorance and understand how I can help others do the same.


Caiden Leavitt

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