The Big Read Blog (Archive)

A Report from the Field

Attleboro, Massachusetts


Attleboro Public Library recently wrapped up their Big Read project on the poems and stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Here's a report on their final event---in the words of Big Reader Victor Bonneville---for which the library partnered with a local middle school. (Photo courtesy of Attleboro Public Library.)

Take the entire seventh grade (160 kids), add two English-Language Arts teachers, a Reading/Writing coach, a music teacher, a computer teacher and an art teacher, stir in the works of Edgar Allan Poe, and what do you get?  A Poe Night to Remember!  That?s just what happened at the Robert J. Coelho Middle School as The Big Read and Attleboro?s 1 Adventure, 1 Book, 1 Community (1 ABC) ended the community-wide reading of Edgar Allan Poe. . . The entire student body and their parents, as well as the broader community, were invited to attend.  And attend they did, nearly filling the school?s auditorium.

With origami birds and ravens lining the corridor to the auditorium, the audience proceeded to view student art work which visually  interpreted  ?The Tell Tale Heart," ?The Raven,? and other stories and poems. Members of the audience were given programs, with the works by Poe that would be read during the performances. The program started with a Power Point presentation on Poe?s poetry followed by a musical reading of ?The Bells? with appropriate bells by the chorus.  ?The Tell-Tale Heart? began with  911 calls alerting the police that loud screaming was heard in the dead of night followed by a police investigation, which led to the beating-heart climax with students playing the beating heart on large empty plastic cans to great effect. Not to be outdone, a reading of ?The Raven? with a black, costumed raven screeching ?nevermore? was performed.  And just when you thought that this must be the highlight, on comes the performance of ?The Pit and the Pendulum? with masked inquisitors hovering over the victim as vocabulary words from the story, chosen by the students, flashed on a screen in the background.  Some inquisitors wandered through the audience seeking others to question!  Fortunately, they found no suspious characters in attendance.

The evening ended with all the students taking bows on stage to appreciative applause followed by light refreshments. Truly a Poe Night to Remember and a fitting ending to the Big Read?s 2009 bi-centennial celebration of Poe in Attleboro.

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