Orson Scott Card, author of the award-winning science fiction novel “Ender’s Game,” spoke to students and faculty at the Middle School Sept. 24 as part of the All-Community Read, a program which encouraged students and faculty to read his book over the summer.
At the assembly, Card shared his passion for history and Winston Churchill.
“His points about leadership both in middle school and in government and military were really insightful and pertinent,” English teacher Amanda Angle said.
After the school-wide assembly, Card answered questions and signed books.
“He was really personable with the kids, often giving them his personal email if they wanted to continue their discussion or get another autograph,” Angle said.
Middle School Librarian Maxine Lucas arranged Card’s visit, which took several months to plan.
“I think students got to glimpse the inner workings of a brilliant mind in all its incongruent glory,” Angle said. “It was great to hear from the man who created such an incredibly engaging story.”
The goal of the All-Community Read, which began in 2010, is “to generate excitement for reading and to connect people in our community through common experience and lively discussions,” the All-Community Read Committee said in a letter to middle school parents.
“We chose ‘Ender’s Game’ because students filled our suggestion box with its title more than any other book,” Angle said. “The All-Community Read Committee also really liked the character of Ender and thought that Harvard-Westlake students would relate to him and enjoy the intensity of such an engaging novel.”
Some alumni, however, were upset over the choice to bring Card to the school. In addition to being a best-selling author, Card is on the board of directors of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage.
Alumni voiced their concern by commenting on a photo posted by Harvard-Westlake on Facebook of Card sitting in Munger Library.
“The decision to bring Orson Scott Card to school was made after discussions between the head of the middle school and several faculty members,” Director of Communications Jill Shaw said in a comment on Facebook responding to alumni concern. “He was not invited to discuss his social, political, or religious views—and he did not. He was invited here as an author, not as a political figure. We are sorry that we brought a speaker to campus whose personal views offend members of the community and hope it does not obscure the supportive environment that HW has created for its LGBTQ students, faculty, staff and alumni.”
In response to Card’s visit, the upper school Gay- Straight Alliance released the following statement: “The school did not invite Orson Scott Card in a malicious manner. It was an honest mistake and the administration has already apologized. Thus, the heads of the GSA do not feel the need to further admonish the administration. Nevertheless, we think that certain safeguards should be put in place to prevent something of this sort from happening again. The GSA would like to move past this incident and instead focus our energies on activities and events which will have a positive effect on the community.”