GCC students digging into an ‘Unfinished Life’

By Andrea Kimbriel, Daily News Intern

”A Tale for Three Counties” is a tale for Genesee Community College students.
Ten English and reading courses are using An Unfinished Life, this year’s Tale for Three Counties book, as part of the class curriculum, and students can also compete in an essay contest, watch a screening of the movie version, meet the author at a book signing, and join public discussion groups hosted at the college.
The Tale for Three Counties is a community reading project organized by libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties. This is the third year that GCC has been participated in the program.
GCC is sponsoring a student essay contest about the significance of the title of An Unfinished Life. The first place winner will receive a gift certificate to Present Tense bookstore, and the second place winner will receive a gift certificate to Main Street Coffee. Both winners will have the opportunity to attend a brunch with the author, Mark Spragg, on March 8, and have their essays published in the New Courier, GCC’s newspaper.
Spragg will be coming to the college to give a talk, and sign his book at 1 p.m. March 8, at an event that is open to the public. He will be making similar visits to the Richmond Memorial Library in Batavia at 7 p.m. March 8, the Lee-Whedon Memorial Library in Medina at 7 p.m. March 9, and the Perry Elementary/Middle School Auditorium in a visit hosted by the Wyoming County public libraries at 2 p.m. March 10.
The college is also planning to do a screening of the 2005 movie version of An Unfinished Life sometime in March. Julie Jackson-Coe, a reading instructor, also plans to show her students the movie before the author’s discussion.
“I want my students to have exposure to both the book and the movie. Having seen the movie myself, I can’t help picturing the characters in the movie when I read the book. As usual, I think I like the book better, but I really love the movie,” she said.
Sue Chiddy, a reading and English instructor at GCC, said the number of classes using the book has doubled since the first year of the program, and that significantly more students participated in the second year’s essay contest. She is hoping the upward trend involvement continues in this year’s contest.
Chiddy leads one of the public book discussions taking place at GCC. She hopes people in the group will have positive experiences like one student in a previous year’s group, a self-described non-reader who began to read for pleasure after the discussion group.
“Her co-workers were all reading the book, too, and she got to discuss it with them at work, as well. It made her excited about reading,” Chiddy said.
Chiddy’s students are halfway through the book. She is having her class respond to their reading in journals. One journal entry will answer the essay contest question, and students will have the option to submit it to the contest.
Nicole Wickham, a student in Chiddy’s Reading 101 class, is excited about reading the book. She said her class has had enthusiastic discussions about the book and the conflict between the characters.
“It’s good. The characters are involved, and there is meaning in everything. The relationships between the characters, like the mother and daughter, are really interesting. You can tell the characters are hesitant about each other at first, but later they begin to trust each other. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I have a feeling that everything is going to be OK,” Wickham said.

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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