PELHAM — When kids think of their summer reading lists, they tend to think of them as more of a chore than as an opportunity to have fun.

That all changed this summer when Pelham High School media generalist Elizabeth Strauss created the Summer Reading Program Adventure.

After learning the director of Special Education had leftover money for projects, Strauss approached PHS Principal Dr. Dorothy Mohr about creating a program that would include field trips along with other projects.

Once the program was approved, Strauss and English teacher Heather Szafran put together a six-day program with everything from reading and writing journals to completing a high rope adventure course at University of New Hampshire and a trip to Boston to visit Boston Public Library and the Mary Baker Eddy Library.

The duo was hoping to have 50 kids sign up for the program, but only 11 enrolled, whether their parents made them or they did it on their own.

“I thought it would be really interesting,” 14-year-old Shannen Perry said. “In the past I’ve had a hard time completing my summer reading so I thought this would help and have fun at the same time.”

For 16-year-old Makayla Wolfson, her mother made her enroll in the program and in the end she was happy she did.

“I didn’t want to come at first because I thought it was going to be boring,” Wolfson said. “But it wasn’t. It was a lot of fun.”

Wolfson said the best part of the program for her was the high adventurous rope course at UNH.

“It was more of the whole trust thing,” Wolfson said. “We had to work as a team to get each other across and through the spider web of ropes. I built friendships while I was here, I didn’t know anyone.”

Seabrina Blais, 16, also enjoyed the rope course.

“I like that I was 25 feet up in a tree,” Blais said. “I am afraid of heights and I overcame my fear.”

Strauss and Szafran created a Web page “Pelham High Adventurous Bibliophiles” (PHAB) for the kids to post blogs on and the group quickly became known as Phabbers.

“(The program) has been really popular. Hopefully we can do it again,” Strauss said. “I don’t expect the money to be readily available each year. I’ll apply for a grant to hopefully get funding.”

The kids in the group already asked Strauss if they could attend next summer should the program be held again.

“Definitely, I would attend again,” Perry said. “It’s been a wonderful experience. I would like to thank Ms. Strauss and Ms. Szafran for making it such a wonderful experience.”

To read more about the PHAB’s summer adventure visit

Have a story idea? Gayle Simone can be reached at 978-970-4838 or by e-mail at