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Nourishing students' minds

Conococheague Elementary School features Books and Breakfast

Conococheague Elementary School features Books and Breakfast

October 11, 2009|By JANET HEIM

It was a winning combination - food for the brain and fuel for the body - as Conococheague Elementary School kicked off its first Books and Breakfast Sept. 23.

Fifty family members of kindergarten and first-grade students attended the event from 8 to 9 a.m. in the school gym/cafeteria. Gathered in circles around the students' classroom teachers, the adults were taught strategies for helping their children learn to read or improve their reading skills.

The adults then read to their own family members and children who did not have an adult attending with them. A breakfast of granola bars, apples and fruit juice was offered.

Tuesday is set aside for Books and Breakfast for second- and third-graders, while fourth- and fifth-grade students can look forward to the event on Nov. 11 in the afternoon.

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This is the first year for this format, said Ryan Hench, principal of Conococheague Elementary. In previous years, Dudes and Donuts and Tea with Mom were wildly successful events, but with parking and space at a premium, school facilities were overwhelmed.

Dividing the activity into three dates, two grade levels at a time, makes it a "little more intimate," Hench said. He added that the children were excited to have their parents at school with them.

The event echoed the goal of the volunteer program at the school - to ensure students have a good experience working with adults other than their teachers, Hench said.

Physical education teacher Sherry Everitts coordinated the event. She is also the Activities/National Network of Partnership Schools co-chairperson at the school.

She said activities such as Books and Breakfast are a key to building bridges in the community, which is part of the school improvement plan for Conococheague Elementary. It is also a way to get parents into the school and make them aware of the reading program.

Everitts said the school, which has 291 students, is blessed to have one to three regular parent volunteers in each classroom.

First-grader Eric Bender, son of Eric and Kristi Bender, selected "The Giant Jam Sandwich" and "Diary of a Wombat" for his dad, who volunteers regularly at the school, to read to him.

Kristi Bender said her son loves it when either of his parents comes to the school. She added that they read every day at home and that her son is inspired by his fifth-grade sister, who is an avid reader.

PTA President Julie Tracey said the turnout for the first Books and Breakfast was good and that she wondered how to get that many parents to come to PTA meetings.

Tracey said her first-grade son, Brier, is excited whenever both his parents can come to school.

As principal of Bester Elementary School, Kristi Bachtell knows the importance of reading from the viewpoint of an educator and a parent. Her kindergarten-age son, Caleb, is a student at Conococheague.

"I think it's wonderful," she said of the Books and Breakfast event. "We read every day at home. It's nice to be able to come to school to read."

Caleb said he liked how students got to read books at the event. He selected "Mouse's First Day of School" and "Here Are My Hands." He added that he's already finished the Level 1 and Level 2 reading books he has and that the Bachtells started reading novels at bedtime, one chapter at a time.

"In the end, it makes learning fun. If it's fun, students remember it," Everitts said.

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