Pilot story and photos
by ANDREA BARKAN
Kalmiopsis Elementary School in Brookings celebrated national Read Across America day on the centennial birthday of Dr. Seuss Tuesday night in the cafeteria.
The National Education Association started Read Across America in 1998, Kalmiopsis Principal Chris McKay said.
"The reason they started it was to promote reading in schools and reading in families," McKay said.
Students, families and friends gathered in fifth-grade classrooms where guest readers, including teachers, police officers, school administrators and community members, read stories they chose.
Other activities during the hour-long event, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., included a book fair in the library and free cookies and punch in the cafeteria.
Students lined the hall with parents and friends to have their Polaroid taken behind a "Green Eggs and Ham" mural in the music room.
"It's a good, fun, family event," Alice Farmer said.
Farmer said she has one child in kindergarten at Kalmiopsis. Her husband, Daryn Farmer, was a guest reader.
"It's kind of like a ritual," she said. "It's a tradition for everyone."
McKay said this year's event was better attended than past Dr. Seuss nights.
"We couldn't have hoped for anything better," McKay said. "Awesome turnout."
Kalmiopsis students have collected 33,000 total reading points so far this school year. Their year-end goal is 40,000, McKay said.
Point values vary from half a point to 18 points, depending upon the difficulty level of the book.
McKay said reading a "Harry Potter" book, for example, would earn a student between 15 and 18 points.
To earn points, students not only have to read a book but must pass a comprehension test, she said.
School officials recognize top readers at the end of each school year.
If the school-wide goal is met, McKay said, she takes the whole school to the movies.
Students have consistently met or exceeded the school goal during the past five years, McKay said.
"We've got a lot of kids really motivated to read," she said.