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Northlawn's Outsiders Day tradition 'stays gold'

The Times invites educators to submit articles highlighting programs and activities happening in schools. For more information, email newsroom@mywebtimes.com.  

 
Back in the 1980s a movie came out that has become somewhat of a modern classic, "The Outsiders."  
Even before its release, Streator teachers had been using the novel by S.E. Hinton in classrooms to teach reading skills, among other lessons.
Barb Kettman was one of the educators teaching "The Outsiders" to her sixth-grade students at Oakland Park School. She had taught the book, which was published in 1967, since the mid-1970s. When she came to Northlawn in the early 1980s, she brought the novel with her, and the idea for an Outsiders Day grew from there. 
What started as just reading the novel and doing some '50s and '60s type activities has grown into a day filled with activities tied to the novel and the movie. It was the sixth-grade teachers who were teaching at Northlawn in the mid-1980s who developed it.
As it has been since then, all sixth-grade students read the book in their language arts classes.  Their teachers focus on reading skills and concepts, such as plot development, character development, sequence, literary devices including simile, metaphor, hyperbole, flashback and foreshadowing, along with making inferences, drawing conclusions, compare/contrast and theme.  It’s a tall order, but with a book that kids love to read, it makes learning easier and fun. As an added bonus, the teachers like it too.
What draws the students into "The Outsiders" are the characters. The unforgettable line up of greasers and socs (socials) are etched in the minds of the students and remain there long after sixth grade is over — Ponyboy, Johnny, Soda and Twobit. Cherry, Bob and Dally.
Even parents of sixth-grade students remember reading the book and how much they loved it and all the activities of Outsiders Day, which now includes watching the movie on a big screen in the gym (feels like being in the movie itself), answering trivia-type questions, playing popular games of the '60s, creating research projects on different aspects of the late '60s, and learning some '60s-era dances with the help of current Streatorettes. 
Capping off the day are root beer floats, which might remind many longtime Streator residents of the black cows from Silverfross and Oogie’s (the same type of drive-in restaurants featured in "The Outsiders").
Outsiders Day has been a tradition in Northlawn sixth grade for more than 30 years. That means an awful lot of students have come to know the meaning of the classic line from both the book and the movie, “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.”

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