Anyone visiting Market Street Elementary School on Wednesday, Feb. 8 would have thought they entered a different world. It was snowing outside, but inside the school the students were dressed in grass skirts and Hawaiian shirts as the school took part in the Scholastic Book Fair luau.
Every inch of the school was adorned in tropical palm trees, rolling surf and soft sand as the students took part in Right to Read Week. Guest readers included Cleveland Browns offensive lineman John Greco and Boardman firefighter Bill Glasser. There was also a surprise visit from "Jessica."
Jessica was a rough-looking individual with raggedy blonde hair, dressed in a homemade Hawaiian kimono. The disguise didn't fool the students though. They knew it was Market Street Principal Jim Stitt, who was doing what he does bestmaking school fun.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
The kindergarten class of Chrys Ritter had a special guest reader on Feb. 8 as Jessica, a.k.a. Principal Jim Stitt, read a book called “100 Days of School.” Stitt said the idea is to make school fun so students can’t wait to see what will happen each day.
"If you make it fun to come to school, the kids want to come and want to learn," Stitt said.
The students themselves got involved by wearing Hawaiian shirts and grass skirts. They fit in well with the transformed auditorium that became a luau PTA book fair chair Nicole Torres said it took a lot of work, but it has been worth it.
"We (PTA members) met on Monday at 8 a.m.," Torres said. "It took one hour, but we were ready to sell books by 9 a.m."
With the tables set up and the books organized, the book fair was ready to roll on Feb. 6. It opened with students walking through and filling out a wish list of books. Those lists went home to parents and the students had the rest of the week to visit the auditorium and purchase their favorites.
Torres said the list also included a teacher wish list for each classroom. Teachers wrote down books they would like to have in their class library. Students and parents had a chance to buy one of the books and donate it to the class.
The Market Street PTA also held a fundraiser where students could donate a dollar and get to color and put their name on a tropical t-shirt cutout that was hung in the book fair.
"The response has been good," Torres said. "We will be taking the dollars and using the money to buy books for Akron Children's Hospital."
Prior to the book fair and Right To Read week, the Market Street students took part in a challenge to hit 100,000 minutes of reading in three weeks. The students not only met their goal, but turned in 112,500 minutes. As a reward, the class with the highest number of minutes got a $50 book fair gift certificate to buy books for their classroom. The winning class also got a popsicle party.
Torres said even the decorations were part of a contest. She said Scholastic Book Fair will judge schools on their decorating for the Right To Read week. If the school wins, it will get a surprise visit from Henry Winkler, who has just launched a series of children's books based on a character like the "Fonz," the role he had on the TV series Happy Days.
All things considered, the Right To Read week was just what Stitt said he encourages. He said the key is to make students want to come to school. When they have fun in school while they are learning, it is a win-win situation.