Blog Archive

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Eulogy of Ivy O'Conner

The Eulogy of Ivy O'Conner is a beautiful and moving piece of writing.

It is staggering how powerful it can be.

We read this piece in class last week.

If you aren't familiar with it, it is definitely worth the read.

It is a eulogy for a high school student.

The narrator is unnamed, but identifies him/herself as the class president.

Throughout the eulogy, cruel and true words are included with strike outs.

This is one of the selections we are reading in conjunction with the novel Speak.

It might seem morbid, but I want students to really understand how deeply wounding bullying, or silence about bullying, can be.
I gave the students their own copy and arranged to have a second reader available.

We discussed the meaning of the word eulogy.

Then I asked students to follow along as I read the eulogy.

I explained that the second reader would be reading the strike out portions and they could think about it as an inner monologue.

We read the piece.

It ends with a statement by the speaker about not being able to imagine why Ivy took her life.

And every class went crazy.

There were inarticulate snorts of derision and muffled curses. They all understood.

The speaker knew.

The speaker was part of the problem.

Bullying and cruelty were the reasons.

It was awe-inspiring to see how vehemently they denounced this speaker.

It was heart breaking to read their written responses later.

Some have been victims.

Many more acknowledged they have been perpetrators.

Self-awareness like that is a sign of maturity.

My last hour had the best response though.

Because that hour, I lacked a second reader and instead asked for a volunteer.

Three lines into the reading and the class was spontaneously choral reading the strike outs.

It was so moving.

It was so unexpected.

It was so unlike that crazy bunch of lunatics!

I love it when everything just clicks into place like that and the kids take you by surprise with their insane coolness.

The impact of this piece in every single class was a good thing.

Spontaneous choral reading just added to how good a lesson it was for all of us.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? Does this good thing remind you of a story of your own? Have a question or comment? Please leave a comment!