Visiting Authors Make a Big Impact

This year’s summer reading for ninth and tenth graders was Jennifer Pharr Davis’s “Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail” and Brendan Slocumb’s “The Violin Conspiracy,” respectively. Fortunately for the students, both authors were able to come to campus to share their wisdom in person. From an exclusive violin performance by Slocumb in Callaway Chapel (accompanied by Episcopal’s own Director of Choral Music Mike Schmidt) to tales from the trails from Davis as the freshmen embarked on the Burch Trip, both authors left a lasting impression on their readers.

Five years after spending a week on campus as Episcopal’s Writer in Residence, Jennifer Pharr Davis returned to the Hill to speak about her book “Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail.” Davis spent time with each ninth grade English class, answering questions about her book, guiding students through a creative writing exercise, talking about the publishing industry, and inspiring confidence in students. She also spoke to the entire school on Wednesday, September 13, framing life lessons with tales of her hiking adventures. Before she left, she met with the entire ninth grade class before they embarked on the Burch Trip to address their worries and questions and gave, in her words, a "pep rally" for their four days in the woods.

When EHS librarian Sarah Fite first read Brendan Slocumb’s “The Violin Conspiracy,”she knew the thriller would be a hit with students. Once the book was assigned as summer reading for sophomores, Fite and the English department invited the D.C.-based author, violinist, and teacher to come to campus to meet with the Class of 2026. Slocumb, who has been named to Who’s Who of American teachers and is a Nobel Teacher of distinction, spoke with the students about his own career as a violinist, his experience as an author, the correlation between the work of fiction and his life, and more. The accomplished musician spent his time on campus teaching classes to the tenth grade, having lunch with the student book club, and playing music for the entire sophomore class in Callaway Chapel, accompanied by Episcopal’s own Director of Choral Music Mike Schmidt.