By Josie Stallard and Leah Franzen
The Pandas welcomed Caitlin Alfirenka, author of I Will Always Write Back for their 2021 Common Reader Day.
Notre Dame Academy held its Common Reader day on September 8, having activities based on the book I Will Always Write Back, getting their books signed, and even getting to hear the author, Caitlyn Alfirenka, talk about the New York Times best seller book in person.
Each year, Notre Dame Academy hosts its own Common Reader Day. All of the students are required to read the same book during the summer and faculty, staff and administrators read the common reader selection as well. This year’s book was I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alfirenka. This is the astonishing story about Caitlyn, a normal teenage girl, and Martin, a teenage boy in poverty in Zimbabwe, writing to each other explaining the differences in their culture and everyday life. Throughout their letters to each other, the two became the best of friends and Caitlin and her family make life better for Martin.
For the first time in a year, Caitlin Alfirenka was able to speak to students about her book in-person. The day began with students in each homeroom discussing their opinions about the book. Afterwards, the entire school community met in the gymnasium where Caitlin spoke about writing her book. Students enrolled in a pen-pal program which allowed them to communicate with other students worldwide and participated in a poverty simulation. Students also learned about NDA’s sister school in Uganda, Notre Dame Senior Secondary Academy in Buseesa, and learned about the student’s daily schedule. To conclude the day, Bi-Okoto, an African music group from Cincinnati, came and performed for the students.
“Common Reader Day is a unique, shared experience for all members of the NDA community,” said Mrs. Amber Grayson, Associate Principal of NDA. “Through literature and the example of courageous women in our world, both alive and fictional, we, the readers, are able to learn, grow and celebrate. When we know better, we should do better, and I believe all Pandas learned something from I Will Always Write Back.”