The gymnasium at Fairfield Elementary in Maumee went from near silence to a fever pitch in seconds.
Then it got even louder.
Principal Michele Loboschefski unrolled a Mr. Popper’s Penguins poster, revealing to about 150 kindergarten through third grade students the book they will be reading for the “One School, One Book” project. When one of the penguins emerged from backstage, the kids went wild.
The program started last year and is designed to get youngsters interested in reading. The Toledo Zoo will come in later this month for an assembly, and students will make their own penguins and penguin nests.
The assembly and announcement of the specific book on Tuesday were a surprise.
“Last year, [the reaction] was the same, and they weren’t even that familiar with it,” Mrs. Loboschefski said. “But you build it up and build the excitement. We gave them clues all week leading up, and they knew from last year it would be a book.”
Students strolled through an igloo made of empty milk jugs Tuesday before taking their seats. Humphrey the Hamster — the main character from last year’s selection The World According to Humphrey — also attended.
Teachers competed in games while their students cheered them on. Events included a spoon race, where teachers raced carrying marshmallows — stand-ins for penguin eggs — on a spoon and into a box. There was also a fishing game.
Mrs. Loboschefski read the first few pages of the children’s novel before dismissing the students, who received their own copy of the book.
Third grader Owen Kennedy, 8, said he enjoys reading biographies, but is also excited to read this book. He offered up a few plot predictions.
“I think he’s going to get penguins,” Owen said. “And since he paints houses, maybe he’ll paint his house like the North Pole.”
Classmate Julia Coutcher, 8, boasted of her teacher’s victory during the assembly.
“I read the book in first grade, but I forgot some parts,” Julia said. “I like to read fantasies and read about fiction.”
Last year, pictures of Humphrey were hung around town. When children spotted one, they took a picture next to it, and sent the photo to school where it was displayed on a bulletin board with the others.
“If they don’t start to love reading now, we know research shows it dwindles as they get older,” Mrs. Loboschefski said. “We try to really build it up and make it fun for them so they love the reading.”
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.