Students focus on literacy, women as leaders

Photos by Kayla Renie/The Herald
Fifth Street Elementary students listen to Aleesha Lopez of Jasper, author of "Joey the Jellyfish Becomes a Hero!" and parent of first-grader Bralynne, as she reads from her book during Read Across America Week at the school in Jasper on Thursday. Students and teachers also celebrated "Dress Up As Your Favorite Character Day" by dressing up in costumes representing their favorite book characters.

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

JASPER — Do you like green eggs and ham?

That’s a question students across Dubois County are answering this week as schools observe Read Across America Week. The weeklong focus on making reading fun celebrates the birthday of Dr. Seuss, the famed children’s author who created characters like the Cat in the Hat and Sam I Am, the lover of green eggs and ham.

In celebration of the week, schools planned guest readers and special dress-up days, mostly centered on Dr. Seuss and his large body of work. At Holland and Huntingburg elementaries, students were encouraged to dress in a theme that matched the Dr. Seuss book for the day. Monday, for example, students wore stripes to go with “Oh The Places You’ll Go.” At Pine Ridge Elementary, staff members chose their favorite Dr. Seuss book to read to students each day. At Fifth Street School, though, the staff mixed it up. Although they still celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday, the staff chose a different theme for the week: women in leadership.

“Each year we choose a theme we’re going to study,” second-grade teacher Nicole Gadlage explained. “We’ve done pets and fairy tales. This year, we decided on Women Leaders Make A Difference.”

In addition to featuring Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March is also Women’s History Month.

Fifth Street Elementary kindergartner Byntlee Elliott, right, waits for Aleesha Lopez to read from her book "Joey the Jellyfish Becomes a Hero!" during Read Across America Week at the school on Thursday. Students and teachers also celebrated "Dress Up As Your Favorite Character Day" by dressing up in costumes representing their favorite book characters.

In preparation for the week, each class chose a prominent woman from history to research and feature on a bulletin board. Throughout the week, teachers took their classes on gallery walks through the school to look at the bulletin boards and learn about the women.

Each morning during the week, a female leader from the community visited the school to read a book featuring a strong female character to the students before morning announcements. On Wednesday, Superintendent Tracy Lorey visited to read “Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell” by Tanya Lee Stone. The book follows the story of Blackwell, the first female medical doctor in the U.S.

Kindergartner Nevaeh Armstrong liked the story. Like Blackwell, she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. Instead of being a medical doctor, though, Navaeh said she wants to be a doctor of veterinary medicine.

Although Navaeh liked “Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?” she prefers books with animals. Her favorites are the "My Little Pony" series.

“Sometimes they’re about vets,” she said.

Fifth Street Elementary teachers explain their favorite book character costumes to students after Aleesha Lopez read from her book "Joey the Jellyfish Becomes a Hero!" during Read Across America Week at the school on Thursday.

Other guest readers were nurse Deanna Erny, Chocolate Bliss owner Ann Knies, parent and author Aleesha Lopez, and Ellen Vonderheide, whose husband, Dean Vonderheide, is Jasper’s mayor.

Although Dr. Seuss wasn’t the sole focus of Read Across America Week at Fifth Street, he was still featured during the week. On Monday, Erny read “The Cat in the Hat” in celebration of Seuss’ birthday, and the cafeteria renamed some of the foods for the week along the theme of Dr. Seuss. That was good news for first-grader Levi Spradlin. His favorite author is Dr. Seuss, and his favorite book is “The Cat in the Hat.”

The week also featured dress-up days and a read-a-thon is set for Friday, which requires students to gatherpledges to raise money for Mentors For Youth.

It’s a week full of quirky activities and fun, but the focus, Gadlage said, is on literacy and encouraging students to crack open a book.

“That’s what Read Across America Week is all about,” she said.




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