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Taft Today

Taft Today

Tommy Takes Taft

Courtesy of Google Images
Courtesy of Google Images.

Taft High School has always been eager to branch out learning in different ways, with different people. The English II team put together an event where award winning author, Tommy Orange, is coming to Taft. But who is this author and why is his work  important?

Gina O’Neill, Language and Literature teacher and coordinator of the event was able to have the opportunity to interview Orange live. Orange’s novel There There has won a number of awards including the PEN/Hemmingway, the John Leonard Prize, the American Book award, and the One Book, One Chicago award.

O’Neill started by asking him about himself in relation to highschool students at Taft. Orange explained that he himself struggled academically in highschool and didn’t find his passion for writing until he was going to be a father. Orange described how his childhood influenced his experiences as a Native American because he was a victim of bullying. 

Another inspiration for writing this novel was being able to work in Native American communities near his area. O’Neill stated, “It is necessary for students to read books from diverse authors to help make them more knowledgeable and open-minded.” 

Orange originally went to school for sound engineering but later went on to  a creative writing school that taught him new ways to communicate with readers. He was able to express clear ideas while still using many perspectives and characters. He also explained how many of the experiences the many characters went through, were related to his life and true to his story. 

An experience that our sophomores will never forget is being able to ask Orange questions themselves. One question a student asked that piqued Orange’s interest was if he would change anything about his novel. He responded that besides a few grammatical changes, he would never change his story. Especially since Orange was adamant on Native Americans experiences throughout the book. 

When asked about their experience at this live interview from Orange, sophomore Hao Tu noted, “It was fun seeing who created the creator of the famous  book.” This shows how this experience impacted students because  they themselves were true fans of the novel. 

Another student who attended this event, sophomore Aryana Sosa, said,“This helped us have more knowledge and history behind the book.”

Something exciting to look forward to is the T.V. show series that could be in the making. While we can’t say much, we can say that Orange voiced how important it was to him that Native Americans were solely involved in this project. He himself won’t be a working part of the film because current new projects are coming up. 

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About the Contributors
Veronica Florczak, Reporter
Olivia Paolucci, Reporter