Schools Celebrate Read Across America Week

Students across Pine-Richland are highlighting reading during Read Across America Week.  Topping this list was a mystery reader at Hance Elementary School – Jackie Evancho. The famous soprano surprised elementary students at her former elementary school. Her visit was just one of many Read Across America moments. Below is a snapshot of that moment and others.

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Hance Elementary School

Special guest Jackie Evancho surprised students at Hance Elementary School. She helped the students celebrate Read Across America, which takes place annually on Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2. The singer, who attended Hance as an elementary student, took time out of her busy schedule to read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” to first, second and third graders.

She told students not only how important reading is to her career but how it’s a passion of hers.

“I hope you guys know reading is very important, and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do with music without it,” she said. “My dream was to sing, and I’m so thankful for the places I’ve gone.
I’ve also dreamed about coming back and reading to the students,” she said. “Now, my dream has come true.”

Jackie took time to answer many questions that the students had regarding her singing career, her travels and even her favorite reading material. 

Students started the program off by singing to Jackie. The kids wrote parodies related to reading. Row, Row, Your Boat; BINGO and Twinkle Little Star were transformed into reading-themed renditions of the beloved favorites under the direction of Music Teacher Jill Linsz.

Teacher Carin Liberati encouraged the singer to visit during a year-long campaign entitled “Caught Me Reading.  She has been encouraging families to send in their photographs that show them reading. She has been asking former Hance Elementary students to share their reading moments to illustrate how reading is important to them. See a video of Jackie Evancho's visit.

2009 PRHS graduates Ryan Wood and Brad Hammer and Ryan's brother Dylan kicked off the program at the start of the year with a special song.  The trio are professional musicians. Ryan wrote a song "Caught Me Dreaming" during his earlier years with a band called "A Call to Attraction."  He reworked the words at the request of Mrs. Liberati for the special reading program.''

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 Richland Elementary School

Students at Richland Elementary School are tying Read Across America day in with an outreach program. Students asked parents and family members to sponsor them for the number of minutes or hours they read during Read Across America week.  The move paid off tremendously. In all, a little more than $10,652 was raised by the Richland Elementary community.

Each class pooled its funds and selected which animals they would like to sponsor to help Heifer International assist millions of families. Heifer International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty while caring for the earth.

“It has been inspiring to see the students, teachers and families get behind this effort,” said PTO President Stacey Silipo. “Teachers have shared the book Beatrice’s Goat (which illustrates the impact of a donation of an animal to a family) with their classes, parents have helped to sponsor their children and the students are so excited about what it means to contribute to a charity through their action of reading.”

So what will the donations buy?  Here’s the breakdown.

3 Heifers
3 Shares of a Heifer
3 Water Buffalos
2 Shares of a Water Buffalo
2 Shares of a Llama
10 Goats
4 Sheep

1 Share of a Sheep

8 Pigs
2 Shares of Pigs
1 Tree Seedlings
2 Shares of Tree Seedlings
6 Trios of Rabbits
3 Shares of Rabbits

5 Fish
14 Honeybees

21 Flocks of Chicks
8 Flocks of Ducks/Geese
1 Animal Care Kit
3 Biogas Stoves
7 Irrigation Pumps
4 Girls sent to School

The initiative came from a suggestion by Teacher Alison Monk, who hosted Read to Feed with her second graders last year. This year, the initiative was launched school wide.

“I want to send a huge thank you to the teachers, students and families for their support and generosity towards this program and for helping to celebrate reading while helping to end world hunger one minute at a time,” said Parent Kiera Anderson.

Other activities took place in other classrooms like Mrs. Anderson’s, Miss Artim’s and Mrs. Hanna’s.  Some of the students participated in reading buddy groups and brought their favorite Dr. Seuss books to read.

“They read the stories and asked their new buddies questions,” said Miss Artim.  “It was such a wonderful experience.”


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Wexford Elementary School

Read Across America not only involved the school but the community! Student teachers Gabriella DeSimone and Crysta Ganter decided to take reading activities to the neighborhood. They sent letters to neighbors on Brown Road explaining that students in Christofer Vins and Patricia Perrine’s classrooms would be writing about things they saw on Brown Road.

“They were invited to be our partners in this educational experience and help stimulate our students’ imagination,” said Mr. Vins.

The neighbors did not disappoint, because all sorts of unique displays popped up on Brown Road inspiring little imaginative minds.

Students incorporated the phrase “….and to think I saw it on Brown Road.

Ms. DeSimone said one student from Mr. Vins classroom, Taylor Waeckerle, wrote about seeing a reindeer pulling a snow blower.  She wrote, "As I was on my way home from school, I saw a reindeer pulling a snow blower.  It couldn't be! No, no. What I really saw was a light up reindeer with a string attached to a red snow blower. It smells like candy canes, it sounds like jingle bells, and it feels like fluffy fur. And to think that I saw it on Brown Road!"  

Another student, Austin Dolny, wrote about seeing a leprechaun in someone's yard.  He wrote, "As I was on my way home from school, I saw a leprechaun.  It couldn't be! No, no.  What I really saw was a blow up leprechaun that was green and at least 7 feet tall.  It had a hat with a flour leaf clover on top.  And to think that I saw it on Brown Road!"  


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Eden Hall Upper Elementary

Eden Hall celebrated Read Across America Week with special guest readers in the classroom. One visitor made quite an impression, so much so that one of the students decided to dress up as the main character from the book.

Superintendent Brian Miller read A Bad Case of Stripes to fourth grade students in the Aquatics Biome.  One student in Mrs. Fetterman’s classroom enjoyed the story so much that she dressed up as the main character.

Students were also treated to many other guest readers like parent Dana Faletti, who is the author of the Whisper Trilogy. High school football and basketball players Andrew Petcash and Phil Jurkovec came to read to our Ms. Dayton & Ms. Strine's classes. The students were thrilled to have these role models sharing their love for reading.

Students also had the chance to create mini-posters of their favorite books and participate in spirit days which included theme days such as: Wear Your Words Day, Curl up with a Good Book Day, Grab Your Hat and Read with the Cat Day, Bookworm Day (scholarly attire or most mismatched outfit) and Be a Character Day.

The school also hosted school-wide DEAR (Drop Everything & Read) time each day.

Students even incorporated fun around their “One School: One Book” project in which the entire school is reading and focusing activities around the book The One & Only Ivan, written by author Katherine Applegate.

Principal Steven Smith has been  encouraging students, staff and families to embrace the project for the purpose of getting “families to read and foster a sense of community through literature.”

“The project provides and promotes opportunities for students, staff, and community to apply thinking and learning inside and outside of the classroom,” said Mr. Smith. “We want to promote metacognitive reading strategies in and out of the classroom.”  at Eden Hall through this shared reading experience.  This year's title, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, offers many opportunities for building strong, memorable connections, through conversation and activities, among all members of our Eden Hall family.  I'm so delighted to have had the opportunity to help lead such a worthwhile initiative."

Each child and staff member was given a book. The books for the program were purchased by the EHUE PTO through proceeds from the book fair.

At the special assembly kick-off, Mr. Smith dressed as a circus ring leader and Assistant Principal Joseph Domagala took a pie or two to the face from some lively clowns. The Pittsburgh Zoo also stopped by for a visit to talk in more details about gorillas.
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Upper Elementary & Elementary Schools

All upper elementary and elementary schools hosted book fairs during the month of March. The students enjoy browsing hundreds of books. Purchases help support the PTOs which helps support the schools.