Jason Squared: Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin Visit the Hilltop

Credit: Joshua Lee
Jason Griffin, a world-renowned artist credits his talents to his middle school art teacher, who pushed him to work hard to perfect his craft.

“If you expect this to be a normal talk, then you’re wrong,” the Jasons comically opened their talk with, immediately engaging their audience. Over four hundred people packed into the gym to hear Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin talk and leave their mark on Hackley.

Hackley welcomed New York Times bestselling author, Jason Reynolds and world-renowned artist, Jason Griffin on Thursday, October 20. During the week of October 10th, homerooms spent time reading the Jasons’ book “Ain’t Burned All the Bright,” a book that documents a black family’s struggles at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. All students in the upper school received a hardcover copy of the book and had the opportunity to get it signed during their visit.

“The book was very inspirational and brought light to a topic that not many people talk about, and I also thought the artwork connected really well with the book,” junior Alex Schiller said.

The two Jasons’ charismatic humor kept students laughing and engaged throughout the whole presentation. The two met at the University of Maryland after Reynolds performed at a talent show, and instantly a bond was formed that has lasted to this day.

During the visit, the two shared their stories on the journey to fame, and how despite facing adversity, they were able to persevere and achieve their goals. Most notably, they mentioned their humble beginnings using abandoned doors as painting canvases and going from house to house trying to sell their book.

“I thought the presentation was very interesting and kept me engaged the whole time. The Jasons were very funny and I like how they were able to talk about serious topics but integrate humor into it as well,” freshman Andrew Carpenito said.

As COVID restrictions have finally been lifted, Hackley hopes to have more authors and artists speak in person in the upcoming years. The Jasons left a positive impact on students, inspiring them to chase their goals no matter their circumstances.