Positive selected as school wide summer read

With only three more months of the school year left, the thought of summer is starting to creep into students’ minds. Although school may be out during the summer, we are all left with one reminder of our days in Morris Hills: the dreaded summer read. However, this year, the read may not be that dreadful. The book chosen for the summer read of 2015 is Positive, written by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin. Positive is Paige’s memoir about the bullying she endured after she told her “trusted” friend in middle school that she was HIV positive. That friend then proceeded to spread around this private information about Paige and in the matter of two weeks, everyone knew about Paige’s condition. Although Paige was bullied and considered suicide, she eventually powered through and become an educator about HIV and AIDS as well as bullying. Who doesn’t love a good overcoming-the-odds story?

Paige Rawl, the author of Positive, is currently a student at Ball State University, majoring in molecular biology. Although she is in college, she still tours to educate audiences about HIV/AIDS and bullying, as she has been an HIV and AIDS educator since the young age of 14. Rawl’s father passed away in 2001 due to an AIDS-related illness, and her mother has also been diagnosed with HIV. Due to her constant determination to spread awareness about HIV and bullying, Paige has been featured in magazines such as POZ, Seventeen, GLAMOUR UK, made the list of 5 Female Stigma Warriors Who Will Inspire in 2014 by Stigma Action Network, named as one of the Top 10 Young Women to Watch in 2014 by the Emma Willard School, as well as one of the 10 Kids Who Made A Difference in 2013 by Mom.Me. Ultimately, Paige proves to be an ideal role model, and we can hope that Positive has the same influence on Morris Hills’ and Morris Knolls’ students.

Mrs. Jennifer Toriello, the District Director of Instructional Services for Language Arts, was the one who luckily found Positive. “I actually stumbled upon this year’s choice when I was scrolling through the Teen Nonfiction List on the Barnes and Noble website,” Toriello admitted. “I noticed one that I had never seen before. Positive, by Paige Rawl appeared at the top of the list, and since I hadn’t seen the title before, I clicked on it and, really, the rest is history,” Mrs. Toriello said. She said that she was “completely captivated by her story.” Mrs. Toriello hopes that everyone will be inspired after reading the memoir. Paige Rawl is only twenty years old, but Mrs.Toriello describes her voice as powerful. She said that “it feels like you know her at the end.” Ms. Rawl will be coming to speak at each school on October 1st and October 2nd and is very excited to visit. Mrs. Toriello hopes that “the community and school-wide awareness that we can bring to both bullying and living with HIV is limitless.”

As a student, Positive seems to be an interesting memoir to read. Bullying awareness may be repeated year after year, but the message of it is always important. Although the designated summer read and the assignments that come along with it aren’t usually the highlights of the summer, Positive is not something that should be feared; it should be accepted.  The only way of finding out is by actually reading the book this summer instead of looking up the summary on Spark Notes; in fact, the book isn’t even on Spark Notes. Happy reading!