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On Friday, June 14, 2019, author Dr. Amy Bass gave two presentations to introduce more than 800 rising 8th-graders in the New Rochelle School District to her latest book, “One Goal: A Coach, A Team and the Game that Brought a Divided Town Together.” Through the School District’s first-ever Summer Read for all rising 8th-graders, each student will receive a new paperback copy of “One Goal,” courtesy of the PTA at Albert Leonard Middle School and the PTA at Isaac E. Young Middle School along with a grant from My Brother’s Keeper of the New Rochelle Youth Bureau. The Co-Presidents of both PTAs worked with an accommodating Hachette Book Group on the logistics of ordering 925 copies of “One Goal.”
At the Isaac assembly, rising 8th-grader Christian Pizzos was seen taking photos and declaring “I can’t wait to read this book,” during Dr. Bass’s presentation. When asked why he was looking forward to reading the book during the summer and completing an assignment, he said “I really like soccer, and this book sounds exciting.” Christian’s family members come from Brazil and are avid soccer fans. Called “One of the best sports books I’ve ever read” by John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” “One Goal” also focuses on the acceptance of new immigrants and the coming together of a community. The book tells the story of thousands of Somali refugees moving into conservative Lewiston, Maine starting in 2000 and initially being told by the Mayor to “Stop Coming,” with new students being greeted with “Go Back to Africa” messages on the bathroom walls. By 2010, this city of 36,000 residents had become home to approximately 7,000 immigrants, many of whom faced racial prejudice.
Acceptance for many of the Somali refugees finally came via soccer, a game the children played extremely well and one their parents -- and eventually the entire community -- embraced. When Lewiston High School’s wise longtime soccer coach Mike McGraw welcomes the Somali students on to his team, he manages to bring compassion and glory to both the team and the town. Today, messages at Lewiston City Hall, notes Dr. Bass, are translated into four different languages --- English, French, Somali and Arabic. “We are so excited to have all our rising 8th-graders read this important book,” notes Beatrice Lopez, the Chairperson for the Middle School English Department. “Having Dr. Amy Bass give these presentations to all the students was a real inspiration for them.”
Additional activities for the 8th Grade Read include a summertime check-in at the New Rochelle Public Library and follow-up discussions in the fall.