Quinn Derreberry checks to make sure her cup is properly placed, one of the many fun games and activities at Dr. Seuss family reading night in Andrews Elementary School. Photo by BEN KATZ

SCOUTING AROUND: School celebrates reading with Dr. Seuss

   Yesenia Hernandez’s grandfather has chickens who lay green eggs, so she has a special relationship with Dr. Seuss’ famous book Green Eggs and Ham.

   “At first I didn’t like green eggs and ham, but now I do,” the first-grade student said.

   Hernandez, who loves to read, thought it would be “really fun” to go to her school’s Family Reading Night. “It has been because there’s a lot of activities,” she said.

   Andrews Elementary School was turned into Seussville on Thursday night for Family Reading Night, with brightly colored truffula trees decorating the halls along with the students’ artwork featuring Seuss characters like the Lorax. Activities prepared by teachers were everywhere, including making a Hop on Popcorn Bar snack mix with the special education teachers, planting truffula trees (or sunflower seeds) with a fourth-grade teacher and using iPads for a Photo Scavenger Hunt with first-grade teachers.

   There was so much to do, that as the night ended, parents approached Principal Melissa Godfrey concerned that they didn’t check off all the activities on the list handed to them as they entered. Godfrey, dressed as Thing 2, reassured them it was OK.

   “Just seeing families together and participating together is great,” Godfrey said.

   One of her favorite spots for the night was the Whoville Reading Nook, which was arranged by the second-grade teachers. In the nook, parents could read with their children on couches with books provided on shelves. “It just warms my heart to see parents and children reading together,” Godfrey said.

   The teachers thought the nook was the best way to convey the idea of the event.

   “It’s family reading, and we want every family to read together,” Karen Hogsed said.

   “The love and understanding for reading starts at home, and any time we can support and encourage that in their family, that’s going to help them academically at school,” Jenn Forchetti said. “Parents are their first teachers.”

   They gathered pillows and bean bags chairs from their own classrooms for the nook. Fourth-grade teacher Melissa Brown allowed them to borrow her big red couch, and another second-grade teacher, Savannah Anderson, let them borrow her black futon.

   Freshly cleaned throw blankets were provided by the nurse, and bookshelves were borrowed from the library. Custodians helped carry larger items to the nook.

   Several children, including Hernandez, said their favorite activity was the Photo Scavenger Hunt. Teams were given clues, like “rhymes with flower,” and had to find where the word they were looking for could be found. Once a group realized where the answer could be found, they’d run down the hall with the provided iPad to get the photo.

   Some of the groups had older kids helping their younger friends, cousins or siblings. For example, sixth-grader Brady Luther calmly reminded his excited younger cousin, Logan Hyde, that he knew the school very well.

   “I like getting the chance to help the little kids,” Luther said.

   Parents and other caregivers also were seen everywhere, reading to children, working with children or proudly stopping to take photos of their child’s artwork. Josh Postell was one of those parents following his son and daughter around the school and helping them with activities.

   “I love the way it’s getting the parents involved and interested,” he said.

   Andrews Elementary, like many other schools in the area, holds a Family Reading Night each year, usually in coordination with the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day. While the NEA celebrates on or near Dr. Seuss’ birthday each year and uses a Dr. Seuss theme as a result, Andrews has had a different theme each year for their Family Reading Night.

   Last year, the theme was Camp Readalot and had different activities related to that theme. This year’s event brought 330 adults and children to the school for the two-hour event.

   “It’s been a great turnout,” Godfrey said.

   She added that Dr. Seuss’ work is very colorful, which is naturally appealing to children. As they worked on truffula trees made of yarn pompoms and straws, fourth-graders Cole Malin and Braxton Ladner talked about their appreciation for the author.

   “He was such an important artist, and he teaches important lessons,” Malin said.

   Teachers like Marsha Davis used Dr. Seuss in their lessons throughout the week. Davis said her kindergarten students read Dr. Seuss books, made crafts and even learned about the author, whose real name was Theodor Geisel.

   Hernandez was thankful that her principal arranged the evening and events throughout the week at the school. “She took the time to do this,” she said. “It makes me really happy.”

Queen wins poster contest

   Madison Queen, a fourth-grade student at Andrews Elementary School, won the Area 1 poster contest for the N.C. Soil & Water Conservation Districts. Her poster will represent the area in the state competition in May.

   Posters were to be designed for the theme “Water ... the Cycle of Life.” Students compete within their grade level. Queen’s poster showed a farm scene, which included the seven forms of the water cycle.

   Queen first won the district competition, for which she was awarded a $25 gift certificate to Walmart and $50 for her teacher by the Cherokee County Soil & Water Conservation District. The prize for the area competition is $50 awarded to the student.

   “Andrews Elementary is very proud of Madison and her dedication to aim high,” said Debbie Hawkins, Queen’s science teacher, adding that she is proud of all her students who entered the competition. “They demonstrated their knowledge of the water cycle and how important it is to our survival.”

   All students who reach the state level of competition receive certificates. First place is awarded $200, while second place receives $100.

   Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.