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    Posted March 12, 2013 by
    Chicago,, Illinois

    30 High School Students Publish World's First Class Sourced Novel

    First crowd-sourced novel by high school students published by Whitney Young Magnet School

    CHICAGO — March 12, 2013 — High school seniors at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School just finished what appears to be the world’s first crowd-sourced novel created by students. The novel, “30 Days to Empathy,” features individual chapters written by 30 Chicago public high school students in English teacher Jay Rehak’s senior class.

    Whitney Young High School – first lady Michelle Obama’s alma mater – will host a book signing this Tuesday, March 12 at 11 a.m. in its library (211 S Laflin St.). The e-book for Amazon’s Kindle will also be released on this date.

    Based on an idea from Rehak, a National Board Certified teacher, the 240-page novel tells the story of an arrogant high school senior who has little respect for his classmates until he mysteriously finds himself living one day in each of their lives.

    “It was such a genius idea to make a novel in which each student’s voice can be heard,” said co-author Sydney Burdin, a senior in Rehak’s English class. “Seeing all our lives chapter by chapter is really quite interesting.”

    While each student retains the copyright on the respective chapters he wrote and receives an equal portion of the proceeds, Rehak will donate his portion to a college scholarship fund for graduating seniors.

    Rehak, who wrote a book of grammar with his students during the 2005-2006 school year, thought of writing this crowd-sourced novel a while ago, but needed current technology to complete the composition.

    “We used Google Docs to organize the book and bypassed the traditional publishing process with Amazon’s CreateSpace. We also used Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to enhance marketing efforts,” he said. “Without 21st century technology, ‘30 Days to Empathy’ never would have happened.”

    Patryk Lipski, another co-author in Rehak’s class, noted, “Reading others’ chapters, glimpsing into their lives, I feel we learned more about each other than most classmates. When we got the proofs, it was almost unreal seeing our work in a fully functional book. It’s a good book, too. We’ve got some talent.”

    The students plan to create and publish an audiobook of “30 Days to Empathy” on Amazon.com before they graduate this June.

    The novel is available for purchase here: http://www.amazon.com/30-Days-Empathy-The-31/dp/0615770053. The first chapter, “Why Isn’t the World More Like Me?,” is available on the “30 Days to Empathy” blog: http://30daystoempathy.blogspot.com.

    Arrogant high school senior Jake Holomann is one month away from graduating a semester early. From his point of view, Jake can’t get away from his school and his classmates fast enough. When Ms. Julie Glass, his English teacher, suggests he might have more to learn before heading off to an Ivy League college, Holomann scoffs at the idea but accepts her strange homework assignment. Her month-long task for Jake to learn the meaning of “empathy” turns into a journey he never could have imagined – Jake mysteriously spends one day living the life of each of his classmates.

    Sometimes humorous, sometimes harrowing, “30 Days to Empathy” is a novel that provides a window into the daily lives of young people from every neighborhood in present day Chicago. This 240-page coming of age story represents the voices of thirty students and their instructor from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, one of Chicago’s premier public secondary schools. It is the world’s first crowd-sourced high school novel ever published.

    Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Official30Days
    Twitter: @official30days (http://www.twitter.com/official30days)
    YouTube Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-i20zD__k4

    Jay Rehak is a teacher, playwright and essayist. He has been a Chicago Public School teacher for 24 years and currently teaches English at Whitney Young High School.

    His first published collaboration with his students, “Book of 101 Grammar Lessons,” was published in 2006. His 27 comedic plays have been performed around the world and are published in three volumes by One Act Depot under the titles “Little Guise,” “More Little Guise” and “Funny Guise,” available at http://oneactplays.net/castsize.html.

    He is also the current president of the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund. He is married to award-winning children’s singer Susan Salidor and has three children: Hope, Hannah and Ali. www.jaycrehak.com
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