Holly Goldberg Sloan at assembly

Holly Goldberg Sloan, the author of “The Elephant in the Room,” discusses her book, her career and writing at an assembly in the Columbia High School auditorium on Monday morning.

After a month of reading the book The Elephant in the Room together as a school district and community, involving class activities, projects and events, students got to meet the author Holly Goldberg Sloan on Monday morning. All 4th and 5th graders and some Columbia High School and Goff Middle School students attended an assembly in the Columbia auditorium while other classes around the district watched the live stream online.

Superintendent Jeff Simons opened the assembly, thanking Ms. Goldberg Sloan for taking the time to visit East Greenbush. He also recognized the students for their participation in the community-wide book club.

“All of you did a terrific job so give yourselves a round of applause for the writing, the reading, the thinking and the feeling that you’ve done over the course of the last month,” Mr. Simons told them.

The Elephant in the Room, which was selected for this community wide literacy initiative by the Committee to Promote Global Education with input from school and town librarians, explores the importance of friendship, acceptance and the bravery we all must face when dealing with life’s changes.

The rationale for starting this One District, One Community, One Book program was to unify the school and community through a love of reading.

Seated on the stage in the Columbia auditorium, Ms. Goldberg Sloan was joined by five students (one from each elementary school) who were selected based on a writing assignment related to The Elephant in the Room. She responded to questions asked by the students which included Julia White (Red Mill), Gabby Frempong (Bell Top), Emma Nelson (Green Meadow), Violet Patrick (Genet) and Sylar Ryf (DPS).

Holly Goldberg Sloan with student interviewers at an assembly on Monday, April 3

Author Holly Goldberg Sloan with student interviewers at an assembly on Monday, April 3 in the Columbia auditorium (L to R): Julia White, Gabby Frempong, Holly Goldberg Sloan, Sylar Ryf, Emma Nelson and Violet Patrick.

“At first I was a little nervous but as we asked more questions I really liked it,” said Ms. Patrick, who along with the other student interviewers had a meet and greet with Ms. Goldberg Sloan prior to the assembly.

Ms. Patrick said she enjoyed the book and the entire One Book program.

“I really like the concept (of the book) and I like how she incorporated a lot of main ideas and subjects into one book,” Ms. Patrick said.

During the assembly, Ms. Goldberg Sloan discussed the book, how she wrote the story and developed the characters. She also talked about other books she’s published, her career as a writer and director, and her process for writing.

“I’m thrilled you all read the book,” Ms. Goldberg Sloan told the students. “I love the idea of everyone reading one book. It gives us common language. It gives us something to talk about, something that can be positive, something that we might have different points of view about.”


Ms. Goldberg Sloan, who is best known for writing screenplays for movies such as “Angels in the Outfield” and “The Big Green” and a number of books including the New York Times bestseller “Counting By 7s,” talked about her writing process and how she develops ideas for stories.

“I write what I know. That’s what inspires me,” she said. “I don’t write about dragons because I never saw one. I don’t know anything about vampires – I never met one. I know about kids. I know about sports. I know about animals, because I love animals so much, so that’s where I get my story ideas.”

The author visit was the culminating event of the One District, One Community, One Book program that started March 1. This literacy initiative and Ms. Goldberg Sloan’s visit was organized by the district’s Committee to Promote Global Education.

At the end of the assembly, Ms. Goldberg Sloan explained why she visited the East Greenbush CSD.

“I wanted to see you because you guys matter to me,” Ms. Goldberg Sloan told the students. “Because you are reading and you are trying to see the world in a bigger, better way. It starts with you. That’s what community is – it’s caring about each other.”

Special thanks to the Committee to Promote Global Education, the Transportation Department, the Technology Department and Holly Goldberg Sloan!

Watch Holly Goldberg Sloan Assembly