NFA Student Panel Interviews Famous Authors


Madison Smith, Staff Writer

On May 21st, Norwich Free Academy students tuned into an author visit with famous authors Neal and Jarrod Shusterman. In the 100% virtual author visit, they discussed their books Scythe, Unwind, and Dry and answered any burning questions the students on the panel had. 

Kaye Bishop, 11th grade English teacher, had her students read Scythe and Unwind. 

I included Unwind and Scythe in the book club selections because as I read them I found myself picturing the students that would love each book. Book clubs allow me to help pair students with a book at their level and give options to meet students’ interests. Unwind and Scythe offer both different topics and different reading levels,” said Bishop. 

Bishop was also in charge of selecting students to be on the panel during the author visit. 

“Each class generated a list of questions and then they voted on their top questions. The students on the panel selected the questions they wanted to ask from that list of questions,” said Bishop. 

Bishop wasn’t the only one planning the author visit. Kristie Leonard, NFA’s library director, and Killeen Dziavit, Head of the English Department, were behind this event. Leonard’s role was organizing the visit and finding an author to come speak. 

“I’ve been involved in every stage of it. From the very minute of seeing if anyone was available. I’ve been organizing with the curriculum office, the grant, and how it’s going to be paid,” said Leonard. 

Dziavit also played an important part in this author visit. As Head of the English Department, she wanted all of the teachers to know about the event by giving them online videos about Neal Shusterman so that the teachers could show their classes. Dziavit also helped Leonard inform other heads of department about the event. 

“We [Dziavit and Leonard] tried to promote reading and try to have students get excited about reading and have the opportunity to see and meet an author,” said Dziavit.

Maggie O’Connell, 11th grader, was one the seven students on the panel during the author visit. O’Connell read Unwind for her English class and said she really enjoyed it. 

“I mainly thought it would be a cool opportunity,” said O’Connell. “I feel like if I was still a freshman and asked to do this, I would definitely be like ‘Oh my God, no way,’ but over the past three years, my confidence has definitely grown. I was a little nervous at first but after I thought about it, I felt honored.”

Though this author visit was over Google Meet and not in an auditorium like other years, it was still a hit. Students on the panel will forever remember getting to interview a famous author and finding out what it’s like to be an author and publish books.