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Engaging a whole school: Echoing Putdowns, Folsom Elementary School (South Hero, Vt.)

The drama club in this small, rural K-8 school created, then performed for everyone, an original short piece that took off very powerfully on the library scene in The Revealers.

In the book, Russell and Elliot unfold a nasty note that a group of popular girls has left for Catalina, a new girl in seventh grade. In the Folsom skit, the three kids sit side by side at a table. They're trying to study—but one after another, other kids come on stage and loom up behind Catalina as they repeat and repeat lines borrowed from, or inspired by, the story: "You don't belong here!" "Nobody likes you!" "Go back where you came from!"

As I listened along with everyone at Folsom School, the chanted putdowns echoed and built until everyone in the room felt what it's like to hear unkind, corroding things said about yourself, over and over and over no matter how hard you try to screen them out.

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