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Monday, September 30, 2013

Coins for Coats

Image from volrock.org
Coins for Coats is a fundraiser for the Round Rock Coats for Kids program which provides a coat to RRISD children in need. It’s one of the many services that the Round Rock Area Serving Center offers the community.

So, how can you get involved?!

  • Beginning Tuesday, October 1st, the library will have a collection bucket where
    you can donate your spare change.

  • Furthermore, the 3rd period class that collects the most money for Coins For Coats will win the Grand Prize; a lunchtime pizza party and an 8G iPod Touch for the teacher. Second place prize is candy for the class and a $20 gift card for the teacher.  Classes must raise at least $100 to be eligible for the grand prize.

  • Finally, keep your eyes peeled for people collecting change at the Homecoming game!

This year’s fund drive begins Tuesday, October 1st  and continues until Friday, October 25th. And, the coat distribution will be October 26th from 8:00am to 11:00am at the Dell Diamond.

For more information about the Serving Center’s programs and volunteer opportunities, call 512.244.2431 or visit www.rasc.org


Monday, September 23, 2013

Banned Books Week 2013


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First, they came for dull classic books which apparently used racial slurs,
and I didn’t speak out because I’m not into those, and besides, prejudice isn't cool.

Then, they came for the books with the good parts dogeared and private bits shown in diagrams,
and I didn’t speak out because there’s much more interesting stuff on the internet.

Then, they came for the comics with guns and blood and freakishly-proportioned people in tights,
and I didn’t speak out because those are for nerds.

Then, they came for the books about wizards and zombies and hunky vampires,
and OH NO THEY DI’ INT!*


You will probably never have a police officer snatch a book out of your hand; SWAT is extraordinarily unlikely to break down your door to get at your stash of literature; it’s practically certain that you’ll never see the inside of a jail cell on account of your choice of reading material. Since the days of your grandparents’ youth, when a stray hip-wiggle by Elvis could cause more official opprobrium than anything Miley Cyrus could ever dream of doing on stage, and a Kirk-on-Uhura smooch deprived all of Alabama of Star Trek’s original run, governments at all levels in the U.S. have become much less interested in limiting what you can read, hear, and see.

Your freedom to read is still under fire, though. Everyone knows what they enjoy reading; if you ask, many even have some good suggestions as to what you might want to read, too. Some folks, though, have an excellent picture in their head of what they DON’T want you to read. In a perfect world, they might just keep their opinions to themselves until asked. However, being free to speak is at least as important as being free to read, and so they can and do make their opinions known, and do so with surprising frequency and predictability by asking libraries to remove books from their collections.

And what do these anti-you-reading-stuff-they-don’t-like activists want you to not-read? It’s a big list, and it grows constantly. Books you are now assigned in class were and still are challenged regularly: The Jungle, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Scarlet Letter, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Books you read when you were younger get the stinkeye, too: Where The Wild Things Are, The Stupids, and Gossip Girl. In fact, the #1 most challenged series of books of 2012 was… Captain Underpants.

So what’s so objectionable in these books anyway? Because offense is in the eye of the beholder, the stated rationales for challenging books vary widely with reasons coming from right and left alike. Perennial favorites include fostering disrespect for authority and promoting violence, drug use, or sex. In recent years, new books with LGBT characters have become popular targets as have much older works which carry racial stereotypes that were common when they were published. In the past, though, a whole form of book was almost destroyed by people who didn’t like them. Psychiatrist Fredric Wertham campaigned against comic books in the mid-1950s, writing a book of his own, Seduction of the Innocent, to promote his cause. In his work with troubled teens, he noticed that one of the things they had in common was that they all read comics.

Of course, before TV became something that every home had, comic books were read by practically everyone; except, it seems, Dr. Wertham. When he did look at them, he imagined that Batman was molesting Robin, that Wonder Woman was a lesbian, and that smut of all sorts could be seen in the bark of background trees and in the headlights of cars; he saw the popular crime and horror comics of the day not as morality tales or illustrated campfire stories, but rather as how-to guides to murder. His book got the attention of the U.S. Senate, which held hearings about the comic book menace. The mood created by this official investigation caused the comic book industry to censor itself for decades under the Comics Code Authority. Only recently have the crime and horror genres returned to the major publishers, most notably with The Walking Dead, which has since become a popular TV series.

                                                                      
This week, September 22 - 28, is Banned Books Week, when we celebrate the freedom to read as we choose. Right in the middle of it, on Wednesday, September 25, is Comic Book Day, as good a day as any to crack open one of your library’s many fine examples of the artform, and see what Dr. Wertham was so afraid of.



- RET3, Guest Blogger

*with apologies to Parson Martin Niemöller

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Faculty Book Club

Image from en.wikipedia.org
Thursday, September 19 marked the inaugural meeting of the still-unnamed RRHS Library’s faculty book club. A raucous smattering of English, CTE, World Languages, Math, and Science teachers plus campus administration met from 4:30 - 5:30 PM to discuss John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and to partake of refreshments inspired by the book. The discussion opened with an AVID strategy which participants can use when teaching, thereby earning them professional development credit. As way lead on to way, those assembled inevitably found themselves discussing life, the universe, and everything - a trail all good books blaze. The next meeting will be Thursday, November 7, when we’ll discuss The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. Come one, come all; bring a full intellect and an empty stomach. See you here!


Check out Librarian Sara Pavone delivering the group’s pizza on Book+Mo+Trike! Keep your eyes peeled for this sustainable, alternatively-fueled transport as it may be used to 
deliver a librarian and books to a location near you.





Writing Contest: First Freedom Student Competion


The  First Freedom Student Competition is underway for this school year.  This national essay and video contest offers 9th - 12th grade students an opportunity to compete for $2,500 awards as they examine the history and implementation of freedom of religion and conscience in American democracy and the world today.  Students then present their evaluation in written essay or video format.

This school year, the  First Freedom Student Competition goes global, as the topic asks students to address international religious freedom.  Students will be introduced to Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the place of religious liberty in U.S. history and U.S. foreign policy.  Their task will challenge their analytic skills and require them to assess current-day events in terms of international human rights and history.  (Model UN sponsors may find this topic of particular interest, as well.)

For the topic, guidelines, registration, classroom poster, student flyer and other details, visit www.firstfreedom.org, and then click on the red First Freedom Student Competition button (center column). 

Also included on the website is a resource manual and 15-minute online video about international religious freedom (green button).  The video features students and seasoned experts.  It may be viewed in the classroom as a class activity or on a school or home computer for personal student or teacher study.

Student online registration is required on or before Monday, November 18, 2013, and the postmark entry deadline for mailing the essay or video entry with its accompanying entry materials is Monday, November 25.  Winners will beannounced on Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, 2014. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Student Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Image from

This book is an adrenaline-filled, action-packed adventure. Clary and Jace go on a hunt to find Clary’s mom who was mysteriously kidnapped. She befriends the group of shadowhunters that Jace lives with. Clary and Jace face many obstacles that they must overcome in order to find her mom and Clary’s identity. I loved this book because I felt like I was going on an adventure, a thrilling and mysterious adventure. Cassandra Clare manipulated this book to be a wonderfully thrilling story. My heart went out to Clary and Jace in their quest to find Clary’s mother. You would like this book if you like… The Host by Stephanie Meyer.


- Monica, RRHS Student

Friday, September 13, 2013

Faculty Review: My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

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That was the best book I've read in months. Its wit and personality kept me turning pages, eagerly awaiting what happened next. I would (and have) recommended this book to everyone.


- Rebecca Cooper, ASL Teacher

Comic: The Great Lollipop Caper by Dan Krall

Looking for a good book?  Try reading this comic-style book talk of The Great Lollipop Caper, by Dan Krall.

Comic from unshelved.com

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Student Review: Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

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Mel has grown up in a town founded by vampires. She lives there with her family and all of her close friends including her best friend Cathy, who LOVES all things vampire. Mel herself could care less about vampires, but would never want to become or watch any of her friends become one. However, one day a vampire comes to school named Francis, and Cathy is instantly done for. Mel then enlists the help of Kit, a human who was taken in by Francis' vampire shade, to keep her friend from making the worst mistake of her life. Along the way, Kit and Mel end up getting tangled up in a mystery with an end you won't see coming and learn some very valuable lessons about what it truly means to be human. I would absolutely recommend this book. It has a very interesting plot and some crazy twists and turns. I am a writer, so it is very hard for me to find a book where I cannot see what is coming a mile away. However, this book gave me some pretty decent surprises, and I had to think to figure most of it out, the rest honestly did befuddle me until I read the very last page. If you are looking for a fun book with a good plot and lots of laughs, I highly recommend this book for you. Also if you are super into the vampire scene and want a newer take on an age old story, this book is definitely for you. My recommendation: read it and love it!

- Rebekah, RRHS Student

Student Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Image from 


The main character Cinder is a cyborg, and the best mechanic in the Commonwealth. She has two stepsisters and a stepmother, only her younger stepsister is kind to her. Then one day the Prince drops off one of the royal androids for her to fix, and her younger step sister gets the plague. Then when her stepmother claims that Cinder is the one who brought the plague into the house, she volunteers her to be a test subject, which no one has ever survived, and the testing reveals something surprising about Cinder. Although the book is light on the details of how everything looks, it is still well written and is a good book in general. You would like this book if you like…science fiction.

- Sierra, RRHS Student

Friday, September 6, 2013

Comic: Battling Boy by Paul Pope

Looking for a good book?  Try reading this comic-style book talk of Battling Boy, by Paul Pope.

Comic from unshelved.com

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Student Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner



Get trapped in an inescapable maze! There’s the safety zone where the walls close to rest at night, but during the day the runners are at it. Running all over looking for a solution to the Maze and having to make it back before dark so the frightening monsters don’t obliterate them. An amazing Journey I think you’ll love because I did too. It’s a one of a kind adventure you won’t find anywhere else! You would like this book if you like… action/adventure with a little bit of mystery.


- Justin, RRHS Student