The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 22, 2006

Enid class producing coffee table book that has been years in the making

By Tippi Rasp

In “ABC Enid,” F is for farmer, C is for cattle and V is for Vance Air Force Base.

The letters may mean something else to different people in other cities, but a lot of careful consideration went into each letter chosen by Enid High School special education students and about 70 peer tutors.

The project is the brainchild of Gretchen Lade, special education teacher at Enid High School. The project is years in the making and her students, with the help of a number of peer tutors, have gotten the project off the ground.

“My goal is to get a book in the hands of my students that they put together,” Lade said.

She got the idea for an alphabet book years ago when she was on a professional development trip. Two books — “ABC NYC: A Book About Seeing New York City” and “Museum ABC,” by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, gave her the inspiration. But Lade said her disabled brother, Michael, helped get the project off high center on a car ride on the east coast last year. When Michael spotted a letter he recognized on a passing bus, Lade knew it was a message for her.

“He said ‘Look, M is for Michael,’” Lade said. “Last summer is when it started to gel.”

EHS students are researching each place they want to feature in “ABC Enid.” Then, with the help of peer tutors, they are typing the letters and their corresponding words on a keyboard designed especially for students who have limited fine motor or coordination abilities. Senior English students have volunteered to sit with the special education students while they write the words and dedication pages. A blind student will use the Ellison dye cuts to make each letter.

Lade said the project, which students hope to get in the mail on graduation day, will help with reading readiness skills and will educate students on places and people in and around Enid. The peer tutors are volunteers and receive no class credit for helping with the project.

“It’s such a neat project,” Lade said.

Another aspect of the book will be found in the photos representing the corresponding letters.

Ron Willson, a senior in Lade’s class, said he has an idea to create an “M” in mid air on the page representing Mark Price Arena. Willson said he wants to play basketball with Shawn Schenk, Enid High School boys basketball coach, and another player. His goal is for a camera to catch their feet in the shape of an “M.”

By publishing an ABC book with Enid landmarks and other easily recognizable objects, Lade hopes the book will encourage students’ recognition of the sounds of the individual letters based on the connection and give them one more opportunity to see that the printed word has meaning.

The book will have pictures of landmarks and people and a facing page with a letter and word representing the letter. Students will write information about each photo and a dedication will be written by each student involved in the book’s publishing. Another page will recognize and thank those who donated to the project.

Lade is sending letters soliciting funds to cover the cost of publishing and printing the first 100 books. She hopes to raise $3,500. She wants to provide each of her students with a book for free. Proceeds from the sale of additional books will be used to purchase new books for the EHS library.

Lade said the book will be sold on the Internet at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. It is scheduled for release six months after being sent to the publishing company, Lade said.

For more information, or to become one of the book’s sponsors, contact Lade at Enid High School at 234-2404.