A first-time St. Edmond class is showing its high school students the fun of independent reading.
St. Edmond educator Melanie Vogt described her summer learning academy program as "Book Club 101."
"I don't really want to call it a class," Vogt said. "I wanted it to be fun reading, reading that they could enjoy, and not have to feel it's a test on their reading. And we have fun."
The class consists of nine students who meet every week and a half. Their third meeting Tuesday was held at Iowa Central Community College. They sat in a close group in the student center, enjoying snacks and soft drinks while discussing the book they had just read, "Speak," by Laurie Halse Anderson.
"We were only going to do two books to begin with and now we're on our third book," Vogt said. "So it's going better than I anticipated."
They were only going to meet for an hour and a half, but ended up talking a full two hours talking about the book and what they were going to do next.
The class first read "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. Next, they're going to read the classic "Of Mice and Men," by John Steinbeck.
This is the first time the program has been done at St. Edmond. The Catholic school has other summer learning academy classes taking place. Also being offered are a voice lessons class, fun with folk art and healthy living outdoors.
"I'm just one little section of the summer academy," Vogt said.
The summer learning class is comprised of the previous year's freshmen and sophomores, who are all participating voluntarily. Vogt deliberately put a cap on how many students could participate in the class to maintain a casual atmosphere. Originally, 15 to 20 students were interested.
Sophomore Annie Kersten said she was really enjoying the reading class.
"It makes me want to read a book during the summer," she said. "I've already read two this summer, whereas before I wouldn't have read two books."
Friend Katy Bocken, a junior, agreed that the class was fun.
"It makes you notice that it's fun and it's not just like school," she said.
Vogt said that getting students to enjoy casual reading was the intent of the class.
"I wanted them to see that reading could be fun. It doesn't have to be an assignment," she said.
Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org