An End-of-the-Year Staple

In Ms. Tallerico’s classes, a bestselling book serves as the launchpad for students to reflect on their own lives.

Ryan Nash, Staff Writer

As the school years come to an end, it seems we are hammered with a whole array of projects, quizzes, exams and tests. Yet, some of these projects often have a very personal element to them, which can either make them really simple or complicated, depending on the person assigned such a task.

This brings up the question, what do the teachers themselves think of these projects they assign? Of course, we figured that speaking with a teacher that just had students turn in one of these projects would allow us to see for ourselves. We chose the The Five People You Meet in Heaven Presentation Project, which students in the Academic English 3 course in Miss Tallerico’s class have just recently completed. 

The project in question involved making slides showing a description of the day students were born, their most memorable birthdays, what their ideal paradise in heaven would be like, and most importantly the five people they would meet there. This was in order for students to apply the lessons learned in the book by Mitch Albom to their own lives. 

“I was expecting students to think deeply about individuals that they have crossed paths with and learned important lessons from,” Tallerico said. “I wanted students to contemplate the various lessons that they have learned thus far and where they may have learned that lesson from.” 

For Tallerico, the project serves as a productive and engaging end-of-year assignment.

“I didn’t intend for the project to be taxing, but I did want students to mirror Eddie’s journey in the novel,” she said. Eddie’s experience wasn’t just about visiting heaven and the afterlife. It was more of a reflective experience where he was able to evaluate his life’s purpose. I wanted students to really think about their life experiences leading up to where they are now. I wanted them to think about who or what got them to where they are today.”

The work that her students are producing has been fun to witness.

“I had one student meet Shrek in their heaven,” Tallerico added. “Shrek taught them the importance of not judging someone based on their appearance which is an important lesson. I also had many students meet their parents in heaven and I really loved hearing about their relationships with their parents and the various lessons that they would learn.”

As for her own own thoughts about the people she would like to meet in the afterlife, Tallerico was not at a loss.

“I did not make my own heaven project, but I did think about what mine would look like,” she said. “My heaven would definitely be at a dog park filled with hundreds of dogs running around. In heaven, I would meet my mom, my childhood dog, my husband’s grandfather, one of my high school teachers, and the manager from my first job.”