Anne Healy Lecture: The Power of Words

Anne Healy Lecture: The Power of Words
Last week, RPCS was thrilled to welcome award-winning writer and illustrator Eugene Yelchin as the featured speaker for our annual Anne Healy Lecture. Mr. Yelchin, a native of Russia, first met with Middle School students and spoke about how he began creating illustrations and stories as a young boy, inspired by books in his father's personal library, which led to a career on the stage, designing costumes and backdrops. He had lunch with the Upper School Jewish Heritage Club, telling them stories of being Jewish in Russia and how when he came to America "It took me a while to get used to people saying they were Jewish out loud and proud. You just didn't do that in Russia," Mr. Yelchin told the students. He met with third and fourth graders to design their own picture books and met with Middle and Upper School classes, including Russian II and Creative Nonfiction, to discuss different literary elements of his books.
In his personal and moving talk to adult members of our community and Upper School tri-school students, Mr. Yelchin spoke about how the power of reading allows us to hold on to our humanity, even in the darkest of times. “Growing up, I read as if my life depended on it,” Mr. Yelchin told the audience. “I’m convinced that if I did not read books obsessively when I was younger, I would not be here today.” Members of the community asked many thought-provoking questions and mingled at a book signing afterwards. 
Our students, parents and guardians, faculty and staff, and greater Baltimore community all learned so much from Mr. Yelchin’s engaging storytelling and wise insights throughout the week. The experiences and messages he shared about resilience, speaking up, living under the USSR reign, and not taking democracy was granted were powerful and we are deeply grateful for Mr. Yelchin for his impactful visit.
Mr. Yelchin is a National Book Award finalist for The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, co-authored with M. T. Anderson and the recipient of the Newbery Honor for Breaking Stalin’s Nose. He received the Sydney Taylor Award for The Genius Under the Table, the Golden Kite Award for The Haunting of Falcon House, the Crystal Kite Award for illustrating Won Ton, the National Jewish Book Award for illustrating The Rooster Prince of Breslov, and the Tomie DePaola Award from the Society of Children Books Writers and Illustrators. His books were named Best Books of the Year by the New York Times, People Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book, USA Today, Amazon, NPR, and School Library Journal, and have been translated in 14 languages. 
The Anne Healy endowment was created to honor Miss Healy, who served as the Head of School for 25 years, from 1950 to 1975. A special day is set aside every other year and a distinguished person in the field of letters is invited to meet and work with groups of students during the school day and to present an evening program for students, faculty and members of the larger school community.