One Book One Community author speaks to students at Sebring, West Branch
SEBRING — Author Arshay Cooper told students in the Sebring and West Branch school districts Friday that the decisions they make today and how they treat others will impact their future.
“What you do now matters,” the Chicago native said.
Cooper, who writes this year’s One Book One Community selection, visited Sebring McKinley Jr./Sr. High School to discuss his book and answer students’ questions about his life and career.
Continued:Author Arshay Cooper discusses inspiring the next generation during Alliance visit
Her novel, “A Most Beautiful Thing,” centers on her experience as a member of the first all-black high school rowing team in the United States. The book details Cooper and his teammates getting together to learn to row, their lives growing up in Chicago. west side in the 1990s and the racism they experienced while participating in a predominantly white sport.
Cooper said he was inspired to write the memoir after speaking to a group of college students and realizing his story could impact them. From an early age, he knew he wanted to do something big with his life, he said.
He encouraged students to surround themselves with people who inspire them to succeed, as well as to embrace the opportunities that come their way.
“You gotta get up and get it,” Cooper said.
“A Most Beautiful Thing” was made into a documentary released in 2020. The film – which is narrated by Common and produced by Grant Hill, Dwyane Wade and 9th Wonder – won a 2021 Gracie Award and was nominated for several other accolades .
Today, Cooper works as a motivational speaker and runs an organization designed to introduce the sport of rowing to students in underserved communities. The sport has had a significant impact on him, from mentorship of his coaches to travel opportunities. He wants to give more students the chance to have this kind of experience.
“The beauty of water has changed my life,” Cooper said.
His ultimate goal is to help diversify the sport and make it a better reflection of diversity in America, he said.
Sebring McKinley Jr./Sr. Nicole Mathias, a high school language arts teacher, said Cooper inspired many students with her story of overcoming adversity and started many conversations between students and teachers.
“There’s something so powerful about getting books into the hands of readers, especially young readers,” she said.
One Book One Community is a joint effort between various community partners, including Rodman Public Library, Friends of Rodman Public Library, Mount Union University, Greater Alliance Foundation, and The Alliance Review.
Cooper also visited schools in the Alliance City and Marlington Local districts.
Contact Paige at 330-580-8577 or [email protected], or on Twitter at @paigembenn.