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Woodstock Elementary Students Read for Fun, Funds

Apr 07, 2016 02:55PM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com

Murray - One full week students were engrossed in reading in the classroom, participating in special literacy activities at school and found immersed in a book at home—reading for pleasure and at the same time, raising funds for the Woodstock Elementary Parent-Teacher Association that sponsors many of the activities at the school.

“All books are my favorites,” said first-grader Jane Wonnacott. “It’s exciting to see what happens at the end of the book. I like to read books a lot because it helps me with my imagination.”

During the 13th annual read-a-thon, held Feb. 29 through March 6, students were encouraged to read as much as they wanted to try to hit the 6,000-hour goal, said Robyn Ivins, PTA read-a-thon coordinator. Students surpassed their goal, with a total of 7,422, averaging 16.5 hours per student.

“It’s amazing what one week can do for independent readers,” Ivins said. “When my daughter was a first-grader, she moved up grade levels with hours and hours of reading, not just the 30 minutes that is encouraged for students to read.”

Teachers also have embraced the week, as fourth-grade teacher Tracy Petersen was reading “The Perfume Collector.” 

“I’ve had about half my students tell me about the books they are reading and normally, I wouldn’t hear about that,” she said. “They’re reading like crazy.”

PTA President Natalie Wonnacott said teachers are supportive of the read-a-thon.

“Teachers make a conscious effort to incorporate reading any time they can,” she said. “They give more reading assignments and more reading time this week.”

Fourth-grade student Kathryn Touchet was found among her classmates that were cuddled in blankets or reading under forts of quilts stretched across desks.

“It’s really fun to be able to spend time just reading,” Kathryn said, adding that she wants to reach her own goal of 35 hours. “I like fantasies and mysteries, and ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ is my favorite book. Now I’m reading ‘The Shamer’s Daughter.’”

During the week, the PTA held several fun activities that matched its theme, “Superheroes Together” and read-a-thon theme, “Woodstock Super Readers.”

For example, the comic book character, Batman, came to visit, but was interrupted by the Joker, who kidnapped the principal—only to release her with a monitoring bracelet on. Principal Yvonne Pearson is housed in her office with crepe-paper bars until the students reach their reading goal, Ivins said.

They also had an obstacle course that personal trainer Aaron Ogden created as a glow-in-the-dark opportunity. Students wearing “kryptonite” glow bracelets, could be like Superman himself as they army crawled under a parachute and did the course with hula hoops and scooters.

They also took a quiz to see if they were like Superman or were a sidekick or a citizen and watched superhero cartoons with donated popcorn from Megaplex theaters. Students also could have their picture taken in a photo booth complete with superhero props.

During the week, teachers tracked the minutes they read in class while students were responsible for tracking reading time outside of school. The PTA then tallied up minutes and gave students feedback to their progress.

The annual school pancake breakfast, cooked by volunteer dads who were to wear masks and capes, was slated for March 18, followed by the awards ceremony. The ceremony would include giving small superhero Lego sets to the top three readers in each class as well as the top three fundraisers in each class. A larger superhero Lego set would be awarded to the overall top reader and top fundraiser, Ivins said.

“This really builds enthusiasm for reading,” first-grade teacher Gina Felt said. “They see all the books and can read their personal choices. They really look forward to the read-a-thon and having been asking for a month when it will be. It’s a great schoolwide activity.”    

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