Creating love for learning

Read Across America Day highlighted at Union Grove Middle

Jackie Midkiff, Jr.,  talks about the importance of reading during Read Across America Day celebrations at Union Grove Middle School.

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

Jackie Midkiff, Jr., talks about the importance of reading during Read Across America Day celebrations at Union Grove Middle School.

Gathering together to read and celebrate reading was the motivation behind Read Across America Day, which was celebrated in many Blount County and city schools on March 2. At Union Grove Middle School, Literacy Leader Cindy Van Pelt helped put together a special program for the day that included “American Idol” contestant Jackie Midkiff and WBIR-TV traffic reporter Ed Rupp.

Singer Jackie Midkiff shared memories of his favorite book growing up and sang a few songs for the audience, said Van Pelt. WBIR-TV traffic reporter Ed Rupp also spoke with classes on the importance of literacy in his job.

“The National Education Association always promotes Read Across America Day, especially on March 2 in honor of Dr Seuss’ birthday,” Van Pelt said. “We take advantage of any opportunity to emphasize something as important to the academics of a student’s life as reading,” she said. “Our event for the day went real well.”

Van Pelt said Midkiff spoke to the student body about how important reading was to him. He told how his mother introduced the book “Big Brother, Little Brother” to him as a child and how it always held a special place in his heart.

The literacy leader said Rupp shared with the students how important reading is to him and then went to technology class and showed students there some of the meteorological websites he used when monitoring weather for his traffic report. “He emphasized the importance of reading well to understand those sites,” she said.

Van Pelt said Lt. Jeff Clark and SRO Cpl. Donna Sparks also came to the event and students had a real surprise at breakfast and lunch. “Our cafeteria served green eggs and ham for breakfast and birthday cake at lunch,” she said.

The literacy leader said the school is promoting reading throughout the month. “We are emphasizing our 20 minutes of reading each day, something we do already but we are promoting it because of the occasion,” she said. We just like to emphasize that reading whenever we get the opportunity.”

Van Pelt said students were participating in trivia contests each morning during March. “We had Dr. Seuss trivia where we read a passage, and they had to tell which book it came from,” she said. “We drew a name out of the basket of all those who guessed the correct answer and gave them a backpack.”

The literacy leader said the idea behind the activities was to instill a joy and love for reading. “It is gratifying in that reading is a basic for all academic performance. If they have a strong interest in reading, they’re building comprehension skills so you’re helping their academics and helping them to become successful in life.”

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