Albion Launches Second NEA Big Read Grant

June 27, 2016

By Jake Weber

English professor Jess Roberts (left) and Big Read Assistant Director Madeline Drury, ’15 (right), with 2016 student leaders.

For the second straight year, the Albion community has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for The Big Read. The grant will fund a month-long community celebration of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and although The Big Read itself won’t take place until October, Associate Professor of English Jess Roberts and Assistant Director of Albion’s Big Read Madeline Drury, ’15, recently kicked off preparations intended to build on the successful 2015 event.

Teachers and Big Read student leaders meet with Albion resident and College trustee Mae Ola Dunklin in Albion’s Holland Park.

On June 13, several Marshall Middle School and Marshall High School teachers took a student-guided tour of Albion. “A benefit of teaching in a small town is knowing the students and their families. When the students from Albion became part of our school community, it was a challenge not knowing them in the same way,” said Marshall High School English teacher Laura Brownell. “Through the tour, I was able to gain a better understanding of the Albion community and our students.

“The tour also made me aware of resources that Albion has to offer that can be incorporated into our teaching curriculum,” Brownell continued, noting that The Big Read itself is one “wonderful vehicle for bringing people together.”

On the evening of June 15, Roberts introduced the 2016 Big Read student leaders, many of whom are returning for a second year. Roberts noted that Albion’s decision to develop youth leadership was both soundly successful in 2015 and a strong factor in earning Albion a second very competitive award.

“From the beginning, one of our key goals has been to value and empower youth. What better way to do that than to ask a group of young people to do a hard, important thing (e.g. lead a discussion); prepare them to do that thing; and then celebrate them for having done it?” Roberts asked. “Given the focus on youth, attending Big Read events also then becomes a way for community members to support young people.”

Albion’s Big Read celebration will take place throughout the month of October 2016. For more information and updates, visit On social media, you can find Albion’s Big Read on Facebook and Instagram.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.