October 31, 2014

Local schools celebrate March is Reading Month

Kevin Bunch
Ms. LaPan's class celebrates March is Reading Month during Dress Like a Superhero Day at Standish Elementary.
Kevin Bunch
Fourth-grader Chris Bowerson of Standish Elementary shows off his superhuman strength as part of the school's Dress Like a Superhero Day.
Photo courtesy of Diane Potts
State Rep. Joel Johnson reads "Legends of Petoskey" to a class of fourth-graders at Standish Elementary.
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ARENAC COUNTY — Kids at area elementary schools are underway on their March is Reading Month activities, and each of the local schools has things planned.

At Standish Elementary, Principal Roger Fritz said their theme is “read superhero style,” and events kicked off March 1 with Dr. Seuss Day. Kids have had the chance to dress in different outfits on different themed days, such as Pajama Day, Silly Socks Day, and Superhero Day.

“You can imagine what a Friday with pajamas on is like for some of these kids,” Fritz said.

Additionally, he said the school had a book exchange, where kids can bring in a few books and swap them out for a few different books, and he is interested in holding another one. It is also hosting a book fair during parent-teacher conferences at the end of the month to continue encouraging reading, and a rock and roll reading assembly March 20, where kids will get to learn about the importance of reading with music.

The school has a reading goal as well: as students finish books, they get to staple an icon in a line around the school. If the icons reach the entire way around, Fritz said he will dress up as a superhero and read to the students from the roof of the school. So far, he said kids are “reading like crazy” to reach that goal.

The superhero theme will be carried through to the school’s fair on April 27, he said.

At Sterling Elementary, Principal Clinton Potts said the theme is to “exercise your mind,” and the school has a workout challenge coupled with reading each day. In addition to having dress-up days, a book swap, a book fair and a principal’s challenge like Standish Elementary, Sterling Elementary also has the “drop everything and read” sessions each day.

Potts said that upon hearing the announcement over the PA system, kids are expected to stop what they’re doing and read for a few minutes, something that has been going over well so far.

The school has also included “weekend challenges,” where kids must try to read and perform a physical challenge each day. One challenge is creating an exercise, and students will get to show these off in class March 18.

“It’s something different in the elementary school,” Potts said. ‘We don’t have the football or basketball games, and we don’t have a marching band. This is a big part of their excitement for the year.”

Both Standish and Sterling elementaries include guest readers, who come in to read books to the kids.

At Arenac Eastern, Principal Mike Bowman said the school also has a principal’s challenge.

“We will have a little prize after they come back (from break) if they hit their reading goal,” Bowman said. “They get to throw water balloons at me.”

According to Debbie Ostrander, who is running the programs for the month, said their theme is “Reading gives you superpowers,” and is science-related. She said the reading goals to hit the principal’s challenge are grade-dependent — up through second grade, it is based on the number of books read, while older kids reach their goal based on the number of minutes they read. By reaching their goals, individual kids receive book charms on a necklace.

Ostrander said the school has other activities scheduled for the month as well since it kicked off March 4.

“Some of the activities we have slated for the month are: Wednesdays are Family Game Nights; Thursdays are Guest Reader Days ¬— Rep. Joel Johnson will be our guest reader on March 28th — and Fridays we have ‘fun’ classroom activities going on,” she said.

Some examples include “dress in class colors and freaky hairdo day” on March 8, “reading camp and pajamas/stuffed animal day” on March 15, and freaky science day on March 22, where grades K through fifth will be visited by the high school chemistry class, who either show the kids an experiment or have the kids do an experiment with them. March 21 will feature a soup supper and book bingo from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the school multipurpose room.

The school also has a spelling bee scheduled for March 27, and the grandparents/special people day is set for March 21, where they can come in from 3 p.m. until 4 p.m. to join in activities with kids. Ostrander said a book fair is also scheduled from March 25 through 28.

Au Gres-Sims’ Title 1 instructor, Deb Bilacic, is in charge of her school’s March is Reading Month program, and said the school’s theme is “find the magic of reading.” The school is highlighting the Magic Tree House and Magic School Bus book series, and even have displays of both constructed in the halls of the school filled with books.

AGS has no principal’s challenge this year. Instead, Bilacic said each classroom has reading goals, and by achieving them the kids can win prizes like books, posters, and Webkins toys. She added that Treasures Forever in Au Gres has also provided smaller prizes for kids that are handed out weekly, like bookmarks and pins.

Kids are also getting visited by guest readers, and an assembly entitled “Reading is Magic” is scheduled for March 13. Activities like dress-up days and a day for sharing magic tricks were thought up by the student council, Bilacic said, as a way to let the kids have more say in the month’s events.

“So far, they absolutely love it,” she said. “It’s been great so far, and we’re just getting started.”

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