A book due out this summer will showcase the talents of Greensview Elementary School students and staff, support the Upper Arlington Education Foundation and cover the history and highlights of the community, from A to Z.
"Golden Bears A to Z" is a followup to a 2010 book called "Buckeyes A to Z" written by Mark Walter, a second-grade teacher at Greensview Elementary. That book was an attempt to encourage students to read by tying in trivia and information about Ohio State University football players and team history.
"I wrote that as a project I started working on early in my teaching career," Walter said. "At the time, there weren't that many OSU kids books.
"During the process, it was kind of neat to be able to show the students in my classroom the drafts and illustrations that would come in."
The success of that project, including the book's continued sales and multiple updates, led Walter to seek a grant last year to develop a similar concept for a book about Upper Arlington. This time, Walter wanted to involve students and staff at Greensview to collaborate in the creative process and see for themselves some of what it takes to write and publish a book.
Last summer, the UA+Ed awarded Walter a $6,000 grant for "Golden Bears A to Z" project.
The book works its way through the alphabet, using each letter to represent moments in Upper Arlington's history, local landmarks, traditions and day-to-day life that make the community unique.
"We kind of thought it was a way to actively include students in the classroom," Walter said. "I had the idea of doing it as a fundraiser for the UA+Ed.
"They provided the funds to publish the books. But what's neat about this process is we're not just using the funds from the grant. We're using them, paying them back and then raising them money."
Ninety Greensview students in grades 3 to 5 worked on the book, giving up recesses and lunch periods over the school year to be members of teams that wrote, edited and marketed the book.
Greensview media specialist Jill Merkle, first-grade teacher Blair Cerny, second-grade teacher Blythe Lamount and third-grade teacher Jamie Trainor helped write and edit the book and third-grade teacher Jana Holland did the illustrations.
Her work helped shave about $1,500 off the costs to put the book together, thereby potentially yielding more profits for the UA+Ed when the book is released and sold in June, Walter said.
"I've just taken little (art) classes," Holland said. "It's like a hobby, so this was like a treat for me.
"It was, I mean, amazing. I asked (Walter) if I could and he was nice enough to say yes."
Once the book is released, it will be sold at Colin's Coffee, 3714 Riverside Drive, Cover to Cover Children's Books, 2116 Arlington Ave., the Original Goodie Shop, 2116 Tremont Center, Trove Warehouse, 2325 Wood Ave., and both local branches of First Merchants Bank, 2130 Tremont Center and 4621 Reed Road.
Walter said around 600 of the 1,500 copies of "Golden Bears A to Z" have been presold, and each student who worked on the project will get a copy.
"To this point, we've paid the grant back, plus raised, so far, around $4,000," he said. "If we sell all of them, I think I had it calculated where we can make around $15,000 in addition to paying the grant back.
"We're now helping provide these grants for other kids," he said.
The project has given students opportunities to "take what they're doing in the classroom and bringing it into a real-world project," Walter said.
"It involves planning, writing, editing, publishing," he said. "They do all that. It's involved in them in the marketing, public speaking, talking to business owners, making little videos, talking in front of the school board.
"I think we always, as teachers, look for ways to connect what we're doing in the classroom to the real world and make lessons meaningful," he said. "It's been great. We've had a lot of fun doing it."