Reading takes the spotlight at Fisher Elementary's literacy ‘gala'

ARLINGTON -- Fisher Elementary School's Mack Multi-Purpose Room was transformed into a Hollywood-style gala on Thursday, complete with a red carpet and bantering co-hosts, giving their students the opportunity to "Be a Reading Star."

The program, held in honor of March being Literacy Awareness Month, featured students reading excerpts from their favorite works of literature to a full house of parents and teachers.

Reading teacher Donna Bazyk welcomed all of the assembled parents, and introduced third grade teacher Charlie Cummings and guidance counselor Tristina McDonald, who would act as the emcees for the evening. The two would poke fun at each other all night, with Cummings noting that McDonald bore a startling resemblance to poet Shel Silverstein, and McDonald responding that Cummings' head more closely resembled an egg.

However, it was the students who were the main attraction, parading alone or in groups down the red carpet to perform dramatic readings, skits, and even a song or two. One student, dressed as cocky seventh-grade jock Crash Coogan, from Jerry Spinelli's 1996 novel "Crash," was the first to take the stage, reading an excerpt from the book. Another student followed that, reading as Alice from Lewis Carroll's 1865 masterpiece "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

Many of the students read short poems, and popular children's poet Silverstein was a favorite choice. The students for the most part chose poems about familiar topics, including homework, tests, the first day of school, playing all day without tiring, and attempting to sell their younger sister.

A group of students performed Stephen Cosgrove's "Mermaid in a Teacup," complete with a wigged student in a wagon playing the mermaid. "She twisted a turned like a fish," read the student playing main character Hattie MacGruder, who finds a mermaid in a pool of water, but is unable to convince her friends that it is real, "which was to be expected because she was half fish."

One student read a short story he had written himself, "The Three Little Kittens and the Big Bad Dog," which was inspired by the fable, "The Three Little Pigs." Two other students showed off their vocal skills, singing Academy Award winning song "Let it Go" from Disney's 2013 animated movie, "Frozen."

Sometimes, whole classes would team up for performances. Kindergarten teacher Cindy Granger's class read from Eric Litwin's "Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes." Pete the Cat, singing happily about his new white shoes, isn't distressed when he steps in a pile of blueberries. Instead, he continues singing, now about his blue shoes. "The moral of Pete's story is, no matter what you step in, keep walking along and singing your song!" read the students. Pete the Cat would later return, with students telling the story of his "Four Groovy Buttons."

Characters from Ludwig Bemelmans' "Mad About Madeline" and Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" were among those who also made appearances.

Even the Pre-K students got a moment of stardom, performing a phonics song, in which they demonstrated their mastery of the alphabet by putting their hands in the air and saying the name of the letter, then putting their hands on their shoulders and making the sound the letter makes, and finally putting their hands on the floor and saying a word beginning with the letter. The audience sang along as the students made their way through the alphabet.

Perhaps the most exciting moment of the evening came when a group of students acted out a scene from "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." The student portraying Potter warded off a pair of "dementors," protecting his cousin Dudley from the supernatural beings by brandishing his wand and shouting "Expecto patronum!"

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB


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