Middle schools promote reading with lunar challenge, arts event


October 25, 2002|By Peg Adamarczyk | Peg Adamarczyk,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A CONTEST for armchair astronauts and an evening of the arts are activities taking place at Pasadena middle schools this month to promote teen-agers' reading for pleasure.

At Chesapeake Bay Middle School, pupils have again been challenged to read their way to the moon and back by entering this year's version of A Trip to the Moon Reading Contest, sponsored by the school media centers. The challenge runs through this month.

The contest converts the pages pupils read for pleasure into kilometers as they compete for prizes. The grand total needed in last year's reading contest was 442,912 pages. This year, organizers have upped the ante by more than 250,000 pages.

To participate, pupils pledge to read books for pleasure and collect sponsors' pledges, either per page or for a set amount of money, to raise funds for the purchase of books and materials for their classrooms and media centers.

School Principal Gary Williams has a challenge for the students to go for the round-trip goal of 712,800 pages.

"If they make it by Oct. 31, Mr. Williams will appear dressed as Elvis at all lunch periods on Halloween," said Peg Sange, school media specialist.

Incentives for pupils vary from candy to a pizza party and an ice cream social.

Feedback from teachers and children has been encouraging.

Jena Harmon, seventh-grade language arts teacher and leader of the Mighty Minds team, said the amount of time her pupils have spent reading is "amazing."

"This has a positive carry-over to improving their work habits and vocabulary," she said.

Seventh-grader Patrice Jones is enjoying the contest this year, too. "The contest is cool because it gives us motivation to read. I think I'm becoming a better reader because I'm reading more," she said.

Fellow seventh-grader Renee Lucas agreed. "Trip to the Moon makes people who don't like to read read anyway because the contest is fun," she added.

With only a few days left in the contest, Sange is confident that the pupils will rise to the added challenge and complete the lunar round-trip goal. "We hope that this contest will make reading for enjoyment become a habit that lasts a lifetime."

Graphics theme

George Fox Middle School's media center is celebrating middle school reading for pleasure with Teen Read Week activities at the school next week.

Meg Kauder, school library media specialist, said Teen Read is a nationwide program created by the American Library Association five years ago to promote young readers. Each year, the program selects a theme for its campaign.

This year's theme draws from the increasingly popular world of Japanese animation and comic books to encourage teen-agers to "Get Graphic." To celebrate reading at George Fox, the school's reading book club will hold an evening of the arts at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Children in grades six through eight will participate.

Evening of the arts programming includes music, excerpts from favorite books and poetry.

The community is invited to attend.

Park improvements

Riviera Clinic League will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at 2 p.m. today at Riviera Beach Community Park, on Meadow Road.

Ed Villaras, league spokesman, said the ceremony will mark the beginning of a safety improvement project that has become close to the hearts of the hundreds of youths who play on the community fields, as well as their parents.

The four ball fields in the park are old and need upgrading, Villaras said. Two of the fields have safety setback problems, and all four need new fencing and dugouts, he said.

Riviera Community Improvement Association owns the fields, but it does not have the money to make improvements. "The association can afford to cut the grass, and that's about it," Villaras said.

Money was not available from the county, so the league began fund-raising efforts in spring to help pay for park improvements. "We're almost there, but we could always use a few more sponsors to help us with the project," he said.

"We are taking on improving two fields now, and the other two next year," he said. "The fields should be in much better shape for our young players next season."

Information: 410-360-4246.

Firehouse event

Find out more about home safety and fire prevention at Orchard Beach Volunteer Fire Department's open house and lunch from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The event will take place rain or shine.

Volunteers have planned activities and exhibits that should interest every member of the family, said Jane Huffman, open house coordinator.

Demonstrations taking place throughout the afternoon will include an auto extrication, the county Health Department's Grandma's House, police dog units, Hector the fire safety clown, the fire safety house and much more.

Free lunch, games and door prizes also will be available.

The firehouse is on Solley Road. Information: 410-255-0921.

Haunting in the Park

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