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Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland

03/31/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/31/2020 12:49

Distance Learning at Holy Cross in South Portland Connects Students to a Distant Author in Scotland

SOUTH PORTLAND---Maine Catholic Schools have embraced the current distance learning in place due to the COVID-19 outbreak, earning rave reviews from parents and members of the wider community for their advanced efforts to be prepared.

But having the technology, lesson plans, and organization in place prior to the crisis has still enabled the unexpected to occur along the way, sometimes, with fantastic results.

'Each year, students of history at Holy Cross supplement their learning by reading novels that coincide with the time period being studied. One of those books is The Right Fight by author Chris Lynch,' said Bill Ridge, a social studies teacher at the school.

The story is of a young ballplayer in the Red Sox farm system who loses his dream of making the big leagues and is sent be a tank driver in WWII.

'The seventh graders had begun its study of WWII through our distance learning system, but the copies of the book are in the classroom at school,' said Ridge. 'I did not want to ask parents to purchase the book at this time so I set out to find an alternative.'

Enter Lynch, who has won countless awards for his books for young people and currently lives in Scotland. In his free time, he teaches creative writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

'I found his email on their faculty directory and wrote to him. I wasn't sure if he would ever see it or respond to it,' said Ridge.

To the students' delight, he wrote back less than a day later.

'He was gracious, but said he would have to search for the book in a format that I could distribute. He said he would get back to me,' said Ridge.

The next day, Lynch responded with even better news.

'He was able to find a copy of a late draft of the book prior to its final edit and publication!' said Ridge. 'The document has editor marks throughout and is a treasure for aspiring writers.'

Providing copies to Holy Cross wasn't the end of the interaction between the author and students.

'Mr. Lynch has offered to respond to any questions the students might have about the book or writing. As we read The Right Fight, we will be able to have an interactive conversation with its author 2,800 miles away,' said Ridge.

So far, Lynch has already provided lengthy, written answers to the students' initial questions and even offered his own thoughts about the subject matter for the students to consider.

'At a time where sacrifice is asked of everyone, Chris Lynch has demonstrated kindness and an interest in our students as its own reward,' said Ridge. 'This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students during what is a once-in-a-lifetime event.'