Local schools celebrate Read Across America

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 3, 2011

NATCHEZ — Tall striped hats, not on cats, but students, at Frazier Primary School marked the birthday of Dr. Seuss Wednesday, all part of Read Across America week.

Exceptional readers at Frazier Primary School have read 24,661 books, or 8.4 million words, since September.

Jon’Lea Butler, Dylan Granier, Dawain Strauder, Jasmine Jackson, Zuri Brown and Angel Johnson of Kathy Green’s second-grade class are the top Accelerated Reading scorers in the school.

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While second graders are expected to earn 25 to 30 Accelerated Reading points during the school year, some have earned upwards of 140 points, which means some Frazier students are reading hundreds of books each.

Most first graders are expected to earn 15-20 points for the year.

Through Renaissance Learning, publisher of the Accelerated Reader software, students earn points based on their comprehension of books they read with a quiz for each book.

“We are exceeding the district goal for reading at this level,” said Frazier Primary School Principal Vera Dunmore. “They are just soaring.”

Librarian Susan Mingee said she is proud of the students for exceeding their own goals.

Students with the highest scores end up on the wall of fame and earn prizes. During morning announcements each week, a news alert lists the names of high-scoring readers.

“I think they are working to hear their name,” Mingee said. “They want to be recognized. We teach them to do the right thing, and prizes are a nice side effect.”

AmeriCorps assistants, in charge of the celebration Wednesday, arranged for guest readers to visit each classroom to read a Dr. Seuss book to the students. They also decorated the campus with balloons and posters.

“Students will continue to learn about Dr. Seuss as they visit the library during their regular library time this week and will be able to check out Dr. Seuss books if they wish,” Mingee said. “Our young students often confuse the Cat in the Hat character for Dr. Seuss. In the library, I’ll show them a picture of the real Theodor Seuss Geisel and explain the difference between the man and the character.”

Students will also learn that Dr. Seuss wrote under a different pen name, Theo Lesieg, which is his last name spelled backwards, Mingee said.

“They always think that’s a pretty interesting fact,” she said. “We finish each class by watching Dr. Seuss’ version of ‘The Cat in the Hat’ on video.”

Mingee said students are turning over thousands of AR books a week in the library.

“To get these numbers, some students are reading four to five books a day,” Mingee said. “They want to get their class work done so they can read and take a reading test. Teachers are an important factor because they encourage reading and give the opportunity to read and take quizzes.

“Students have requirements, and they have choices. They choose to read Accelerated Reading books.”

Butler is the daughter of Ruthie Abraham and granddaughter of Shirley Smith. She has earned 147.2 AR points, the highest at Frazier Primary School, read 326 books, of which her favorite is “Wacky Wednesday.”

Granier is the son of Steve and Patricia Granier. He has earned 119.1 AR points and read 276 books. His favorite school subject is art.

Strauder is the son of Jennifer Ellison and Derrick Strauder. He has earned 113.1 AR points and read 245 books. Strauder’s favorite book is, “I Don’t Want to Wake Up Today.”

Jackson is the daughter of Shemeka Ware and Clevonne Jackson. She has earned 66.1 AR points.

“I like to read Fancy-Nancy books for girls,” Jackson said.

Brown is the daughter of Curtis and Lana Brown. She has earned 58.5 points, and he favorite book is “Kate and the Beanstalk.”

Johnson is the daughter of Kertrena and Shondrell Calvin. She has earned 67.7 AR points, and her favorite book is “Makeup Mess.”

“It’s funny,” Johnson said. “The girl had an earring in her nose, wild hair and lots of makeup.”