HES event draws record crowd

?American Literacy Awards Night,? a spinoff of the popular-music award shows, was the theme for this year?s Family Reading Night at Hillsboro Elementary School, March 29.

The event drew a crowd of 423 people to a packed HES gym. It was the best turnout in the last six years, according to Sandy Arnold, librarian.

She said 79 percent of the students in kindergarten through fifth-grade attended, including four classes with attendance of 90 percent or higher. The four classes will receive pizza at the park as a reward.

The host for the evening was Reid A. Lott, played by USD 410 Superintendent Steve Noble.

At the start, Lott introduced the four books that were nominees for ?Book of the Night.? Families would hear the stories at separate stations and could then vote later that evening.

Reading the four ?Book of the Night? nominees were members of the HES staff and administration. The four nominees, with accompanying activities, were:

? ?Burger Boy,? written by Alan Durant. It is the story of a young boy who eats so many hamburgers he turns into one. After hearing the readers? theater, students made their own hamburgers out of cookies, candy and frosting.

? ?Have I Got a Book For You,? by Melanie Watt. The story is about a salesman, Dr. Al Foxword, who is trying to sell the reader a book. Al and his sidekick El?played by first-grade teachers, Julie Linnens and Eleanor Jost?tried a variety of strategies to get people to buy the book, including throwing in a ?top of the line? bookmark.

? ?This is the Teacher,? by Rhonda Gowler Greene. In this story, which is a twist on the popular nursery rhyme ?This is the House that Jack Built,? an optimistic teacher eagerly starts the morning ready for school. But after a long, chaotic day with the students, she wants to go home when the bell rings and go to bed. The story was shown as a video, starring fifth-grade students and fifth-grade teacher Colette Haslett.

? ?Watch Me Throw the Ball? by Mo Willems. In the story, acted out by fifth-grade teacher Rod Just and HES principal Evan Yoder, Elephant knows that throwing a ball is serious business, but Piggie thinks throwing is just fun.

Willems has written several Elephant and Piggie books that are great for beginning readers.

After watching the skit, students rotated through stations, throwing balls, Frisbees and bean bags through hoops, at targets and in crates.

At the remaining two stations, families had an intermission where they could read together; they then walked on the red-carpet book walk to win prizes.

Once the stations were completed, everyone gathered back in the gym. Families could then cast votes for the ?Book of the Night.? Students could vote with the traditional paper and pencil method, or they could text a vote via a poll set up on the Internet site, textthemob.com.

While the votes were being counted, the audience was treated to two musical presentations. Both presentations were based on books, and both were accompanied by the band, Staff Infection.

The band was made up of Noble (drums), Just (bass), counselor Mike Moran guitar), third-grade teacher Vera Isaac (keyboard), and Linnens and Yoder (vocals).

Fifth-grade volunteers acted out parts or danced to the music. Choreography was created by Shirley Baltzer, HES music teacher.

The first musical presentation was based on the book ?Old MacDonald Had a Woodshop,? by Lisa Schulman. The second presentation was a musical medley in which Philemon Sturges?s story, ?She?ll Be Comin? Round the Mountain,? was told in a variety of music genres, including the Bee Gees, country, rap, and 1950s.

Once the music was finished, the winner of the ?Book of the Night,? Burger Boy, was announced. After the acceptance speech by the cast, family reading night boxes were given away to end the evening.

Arnold said she was grateful to all the people who helped make Family Reading Night a success.

?The setup/cleanup for the evening was one of the smoothest we?ve had, thanks to all the help received from the HES staff,? she said. ?Of course, the evening wouldn?t be what it is if it weren?t for the people in the skits, willing to have a little fun and show the students another side of their teachers and staff.?

Arnold said she also was thankful for the support of parents.

?The book fair, run by the HES site council, was also a great success,? she said. ?The participation we have at this event makes it worth repeating year after year.?

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