The Park City Education Foundation will fund the Author-in-Residence program this year. The program was founded in 2009 by former Park City High School English teacher Roger Arsht. Since then, the Foundation, in conjunction with the Park City High School English Department, has brought four authors to meet and talk with PCHS students. Last year Garth Stein, author of "The Art of Racing in the Rain," met students and attended a community event held at the Eccles Center. The cost to fund a program like this costs about $10,000, according to PCEF Communications Director Jennifer Billow.
This year, students at Park City High School are required to read "Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI" by Ryan Smithson. The book is an account of his experience serving in Iraq after high school. Billow said PCHS teacher Kelly Yeates and Melissa Nikolai chose the book to correlate with the English curriculum. She said because Smithson is a younger author, students might feel more comfortable approaching him and asking questions. Treasure Mountain Junior High School students and mature Ecker Hill Middle School students are encouraged to read the book.
When the program first started, Arsht applied for a grant from the PCEF in order to get the program running. Billow said this will be the first year the Foundation will fund the entire program and they hope to continue it in the future.
"It morphed from a great teacher having a great idea then turning it into a program that affected every student at the high school and it was a perfect fit with the site grant idea," Billow said.
Smithson plans to visit Park City in September to meet with high school students and will attend a community event held on Sept. 5, at the Eccles Center. Community members will be welcome to attend.
"We do this in conjunction with the English department at the high school so they can choose what will be interesting to the most students," she said. "Our community invests a lot into education and everyone benefits from having a strong education system and this is a way for us to give back to the community."
According to Billow, the program is also a good way to bring students and community members together.
"Everyone can read this book and then come to the Author-in-Residence talk and then we’ll have a question-and-answer forum," she said. "All the students have something to relate to and every kid can read it and then they can talk about it. It’s a nice conversation and unites the community."