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Durham District School Board
Ignite Learning
Famous Canadian author Lawrence Hill visits DDSB

Students from across the school board connect with Lawrence Hill to talk about writing and his book, The Book of Negroes. 

 

Principal Jeff Maharaj and students and from Eastdale CVI
with Lawrence Hill at Uxbridge Secondary School.
 

An intimate group of approximately 75 students from eight high schools in the Durham District School Board received a special gift on May 4 at Uxbridge Secondary School. The group of teens were visited by famous Canadian author Lawrence Hill. He answered their burning questions about The Book of Negroes, how he became a writer, what it takes to be successful and what is up next.

"It was really interesting to get his perspective," says Brooklin Kennedy who is in grade 11 and enjoys creative writing. "It was good to hear how he thinks creatively and what research is involved to write. I now have an idea of what I would be getting into."

The students prepared smart questions for Hill and he happily responded to them. He was asked if he feels pressure when writing about cultures and different groups of people.

"I felt profound pressures and I tried to ignore them. I want to be bold and free when I'm writing," expressed Hill.

Lawrence Hill talking with Nashka
from Dunbarton High School.

Daniel Amenta is the Canadian and World Studies Head at Uxbridge Secondary School. After corresponding with Lawrence Hill's assistant and planning with his principal Michelle Crawford-Eade, they set-up a day for Hill to visit the school.

"The goal was to give the students a rich and authentic learning opportunity," Amenta says. "The discussion with Lawrence Hill also provided the students insight into Hill's motivation behind the book, and allowed students to better connect the story of The Book of Negroes to their learning journey."

Lawrence Hill talking to students
one-on-one after his presentation.

One student inquired about the difficulties in writing about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Hill explained that he tried to write through those parts quickly because they were so emotional, but it was an important story to tell. "I wanted to show, most of all, the resilience of the human spirit, in regard to the slave trade," explained Hill.

Amenta's class read the book as part of their history curriculum. He said, "The Book of Negroes has encouraged rich discussion in class regarding some difficult topics in American history, such as the historical roots of the slave trade in America, and has helped us to explore the impact that this issue has had on American history, identity, and society then, and today.   

Hill explained that high school readers are some of the best readers, since a real analysis happens when they read the book as part of the curriculum.

"I feel great, it's wonderful to be read by students," Hill says. "It's not just about the book. High school readers are very engaged."