AS THE SCHOOL year comes to an end, it is time to look back and consider the accomplishments of the children.
Kathy Fieldhouse, reading teacher at Brooklyn Park Elementary School, can look back with pride. In her year-end tally of books read by about half of the 219 youngsters in kindergarten through sixthgrade, Fieldhouse has counted 12,579 volumes.
Fieldhouse was impressed: "This is the first year that we've collected numbers, but I was just blown away by this. For our kids to read 12,000 books is incredible. The totals were posted every month, and once we passed 10,000, everyone began to get really excited."
Children who participated by reading at least one book were rewarded. On May 6, each received a new book courtesy of the school PTA - along with an extra hour of recess to read and report on it.
Throughout the year, they read grade- and age-appropriate books and reported on their progress each week. Fieldhouse said the older pupils averaged a chapter each night, while those in kindergarten and first grade read at a steady pace all year.
They chose from a variety of reading materials, and when children liked what they read, they recommended titles to classmates.
"Some read newspapers and magazines and brought in a list of the articles that they had read along with their library books. They seemed to like doing a broader type of reading," Fieldhouse said.
There were "some class trends. The older kids read a lot of historical fiction dealing with the Civil War and a lot about the Titanic. Younger kids read Arthur books and `I Spy' books."
As the year progressed, Fieldhouse noted changes in the pupils' outlook. "I saw their confidence in themselves as readers grow. ... They saw that they were OK, and then picked harder books to read the next time. They saw the benefit of reading." she said. "It didn't cross their minds not to read. When the calendar ended, they kept on reading. They saw that it didn't take any extra time. Just 15 minutes before going to bed. It was wind-down time, part of the evening."
To encourage reading at home, Fieldhouse suggests making it part of the family's activities. "Reading to someone is part of it. The fifth-grade pupils were reading to their younger brothers and sisters. At first they thought of it as a chore, but then it became an enjoyable activity."
Fieldhouse looks forward to a larger tally next year, though the school's sixth grade will be moving into the new Brooklyn Park Middle School. "We will be one grade-level smaller next year. But that doesn't matter. We can top this number. I can bet on it," she said.
Pupils eye cosmos
Fourth-graders at Park Elementary have just finished an ambitious study of the wonders of space exploration. Teacher Janis Udesreceived a Grade Four Enrichment Prototype Mini-Grant for $700 from the county's Gifted and Talented program that enabled the children to visit Goddard Space Flight Center and receive a visit from the Maryland Science Center's traveling planetarium.
"The science center brought two inflatable planetariums to the gym. They looked like big igloos. Each held about 30 pupils. They crawled inside and saw a display on the planets and the solar system. All thought it was wonderful; it was very exciting," Udes said.
At Goddard, pupils learned about what it would be like to live in space. "They learned about food and how astronauts eat in space, and experiments on microgravity. The grant made this possible. Without it, we wouldn't have been able to do this," she said.
Outdoor church concert
Redemption, the Summer Ministry Team of Baptist Bible College, will perform at an outdoor concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday on the parking lot of Townsend Avenue Baptist Church.
The Baptist college is in Clarks Summit, Pa. Its group is traveling around the nation for the summer, performing upbeat worship and gospel music.
The concert is free, and refreshments will be served. Seating will be limited, and those attending are encouraged to bring a lawn chair.
Townsend Avenue Baptist is at Fifth Street and Townsend Avenue, Brooklyn. Information: 410-355-0347.
Summer reading kickoff
The kickoff of the summer reading program at the Brooklyn Park library is planned at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The theme this year is "Reading Rhythms." Children will be invited to "feel the rhythm" through activities such as stories, treasure hunts, lessons about wildlife and science, and music.
Children in preschool through grade eight are eligible and may register any time at the library to receive a game board to record reading progress, an activity sheet, and a packet of coupons and passes to area attractions.
The kickoff has the theme "Rock Around the Clock" and will feature games, face painting, music, contests and crafts.
The library is a 1 E. 11th Ave. Information: 410-222-6260.