Books and children today seem to be fading away. Still, McCleary Elementary School continues to promote reading for their students as well as suggesting that parents read to them too.
This year, at their annual One School – One Book event, Charlotte’s Web, a children’s novel, written by E. B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams, was the book the evening focused around.
Over 400 students and citizens attended the event. The evening proved to be a phenomenal success with laughter, smiles and joyful conversation everywhere.
“This is my third year as Principal doing the event, however, McCleary has been putting on the event for six years,” Gerri VanDyke said. “This was in place when I became Principal and it was such a great community outreach that I chose to continue it.”
The novel tells the story of a livestock pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a barn spider named Charlotte. Wilbur is a rambunctious pig and the runt of his litter. The book portrays him as being “strongly emotional.”
A little girl, Fern Arable, adopts Wilbur when he’s a piglet, and later visits him. She is also the only human in the story able to understand the conversation of the animals.
When Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered by the farmer, Charlotte writes messages praising Wilbur in her web in order to persuade the farmer to let him live.
Other farm animals added to the captivating story, like Templeton the rat. Templeton was an interesting character as he only helps Charlotte and Wilbur when he is offered food.
McCleary Elementary staff had the event in almost every room and area, including the front lawn where hay bales were decorated as a Charlotte and Wilbur.
Everyone registered as they came in and received a bag which they were told they would need as there was “lots of prizes to win.” Kids immediately got excited when they heard that.
Baby animals were brought in by the Little Critters Petting Zoo, which included a piglet, goat, mouse, rabbits and geese – all characters of the storybook. Most kids were quick to pet each.
Many rooms had games set up to play, tattoos to get, crafts to make and a pig to stuff. Kids were so excited to get a prize after playing, getting to rummage through all the choices of toys the school provided.
The ‘build a pig’ room was packed the entire night. “It seemed to the favorite of the evening,” Principal VanDyke noted.
There was a popcorn machine, cotton candy and hot dogs ready for everyone. The cotton candy was the favorite as the line was so long the entire evening. “It’s awesome,” one kid shouted as he stuffed a handful in his mouth with a great big smile. His mom just shrugged her shoulders with a smile too.
However, when the kids saw the three bouncy houses nothing could stop most of them. Grins a mile wide came on their faces while shoes went flying off. Parents were hurrying to gather their child’s belongings as well as smiling, as laughter permeated the auditoriums.
One house was just bouncy, while the second had a slide on the side. However, the third was an obstacle course.
The smaller kids enjoyed just bouncing and sliding, while others paired up and competed through the course. Even though one would finish before the other, they waited on their teammate to go and ‘do it again’, laughing all the way.
The adults watched, talked and enjoyed the fact that their child was having such a good time.
Other kids took the small footballs they had won and picked the open space at the end of the auditorium to have a game while others picked the other open end and played basketball.
David Givens of Dave’s Live Sounds was the emcee for the evening and kept the music pumping throughout the two-hour period. Some danced to their favorite songs, while others sang along.
At the end of the evening, there were drawings for special door prizes. Shouts of glee filled the air as names were called.
The teachers and staff who helped to organize the annual extravaganza thanked everyone who volunteered their time and efforts.
A sign was posted on doors of a picture of Charlotte’s Web, and it said, “You’re “TERRIFIC”! It also had the following businesses listed: Craig Botetourt Electric, Craig County Community Church, Craig County Middle School, Craig County Fairgrounds, D&C Excavating, Market Street Pharmacy, Browns Excavation, Little Critters Petting Zoo, Jackie Scruggs-Taylor, McCleary PTO, Pets in the Classroom, Renaissance Learning, The Persinger’s, Frito Lay, The Swinging Bridge, Cross – Lavinder – Quinn and Park Family Dentistry, David Givens and the Women’s Farm Bureau.
Prizes were donated by: McCleary PTO, Railyard Dawgs Hockey, Virginia Museum of Transportation, Mill Mountain Zoo, Skate Center, Frito-Lay, Showtimers, Roanoke Children’s Theatre and Center in the Square.
“Also, I want to add a big thanks to McCleary staff and parents because we could not have pulled it off without them,” VanDyke said before adding, “This is our favorite event and we love it.”
The students were so excited, they approached Principal VanDyke with the question, “What book are we doing next?” That question in itself, makes every educator very happy.