Grant helps student craft their love of literacy

Middletown High School students drawn together because of their love of literacy and art were recently recognized for their efforts.

The students, under the direction of freshman English teacher Chris Pearce, won a Sherlock Holmes Grant worth $200 from The Beacon Society. The purpose of the grant is to develop a teaching project that will introduce more young people to Sherlock Holmes. Pearce said the club spent the grant on professional art supplies that they used to create the magazine that features artwork, comics, short stories and reviews.

They will present their student-created magazine called “Irregular” on April 5 at the Gem City Comic Con at Wright State University. At the comic event, the students will participate on an academic panel that will answer questions about their project and their love of art and literacy.

Several of the students in the club said it fills a void at the high school for those who want to participate in extra-curricular activities, but aren’t interested in athletics. One of the students said the club is for those who don’t watch MTV or go to tanning salons.

“It gives us nerds a reason to stay after school,” said Kristina Day, a sophomore.

Ryan Ly, a junior, said the students were attracted to the club because others in the school “don’t get it.”

The club has been meeting once a week for about five months, said Pearce. Earlier this week, there were about 20 students, some wearing capes, costumes and sunglasses, in Pearce’s classroom that is decorated with superhero action figures and chalk drawings.

Pearce teaches English and journalism. He has taught at MHS for six years. He and his wife, Ellen, moved from the East coast — where he taught for five years — because they wanted to be closer to her family and “put down roots.” They have three children: Elliot 6, Henry, 4, and Joan, 1 week.

From the time he was a little boy, Pearce has been drawn to comics. From “Peanuts” and “Calvin and Hobbes” to classic Marvel and DC heroes, his passion has followed him throughout his life and into the classroom, he said. He uses comics in his classroom to help tie classical literature elements into a more modern environment.

Pearce produces his own comics, too.

“Teachable Moments” is his online comic journal, which takes snippets from his daily experiences and allows him an outlet to work through his process and share his thoughts with other professionals.