‘Whaleboats’ Compete Daily in Stary’s College Credit Classes


Olivia Vanden Elzen, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Mr. Steven Stary, NDA English teacher, has set out on his annual voyage with his three College Jumpstart English classes through the renowned Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

Stary motivates the reading of the rather lengthy book through a competition.

“Some students in the past have said that they never would have read the book if it weren’t for their own competitive natures,” said Stary.

The English teacher has broken each of the three classes into three to four teams, or what he likes to refer to as “whaleboats,” where teams compete for points daily. The “whaleboats” can earn points by being the first “boat” to have all of its members in the room first before class begins, participating in discussions and writing blog posts on their team’s blog.

“Awarding points to different teams was inspired by the Hogwarts House Cup competition. I like the idea of being able to say ‘10 points for Gryffindor!’ if someone comes up with a good discussion point,” said Stary.

Among the “crew” members in each “whaleboat” there are two roles which Stary hand-picks: the “first mate” and the “harpooner.” Similar to a real whale boat, the first mate is in charge of the organization of its team while the harpooner’s main duty is to go “spear” or research questions their team may have on the book.

“I really enjoy reading Moby Dick because of the competition aspect. It makes reading such an intimidating book a lot more fun. It is also a great way to work with your classmates and leads to really good discussions which sometime relates to works we have studied throughout the entire year,” said senior Bailee Malcore

Stary admits that he deliberately designs lessons with other works throughout the year, so he will be able to incorporate key content and concepts eventually having a payoff somewhere in reading Moby-Dick.

Upon finishing the book, the teams with the most points from each class will receive a crocheted whale made by his wife.

Though the book may seem intimidating, Stary encourages others to read it anyway.

“Nobody asks you to understand it completely. A good book doesn’t just tell a simple story; it should make you wonder and ask questions,” said Stary.