Ryan students video conference with former MLB pitcher for book program

Students and faculty at Archbishop Ryan High School had the opportunity last week to video conference with former major league baseball pitcher and author Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand.

The video conference was about Abbott’s new book, Imperfect: An Improbable Life, written by Abbott and Tim Brown. The book was selected for the school’s reading program, One Book, One School.

Students part of the National Honor Society, designers of the school’s wiki page and others were able to go up and ask Abbott a question. The Q&A was set up in a private room for a select number of students while the rest of the student body was able to watch from the auditorium.

While it was 8 a.m. here in Philadelphia, Abbott was in California with the clocks set at 5 a.m. Sporting a Ryan hat, Abbott took questions about the book and on his life. At the end of the hour-long conference, Principal Helen Chaykowsky went up to thank Abbot for participating.

“We felt that the book had a message that we wanted our students to learn,” Chaykowsky said. “The struggles [Abbott] went through with his challenge are a marvelous lesson for all of us.”

Junior Daniel Turner, who helped put the wiki page together for Ryan’s website, said he felt that the book was a great choice.

“I thought it really put a new perspective on being different and it gave everyone inspiration,” he said. “It was really special to come together as a school with this One Book, One School program.”

With the One Book, One School program, Ryan will put Imperfect into the curriculum for all classes. The plan for the program is to engage students in a reading culture.

Steven Mitchell is a student reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication for Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

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