Kanawha students embrace book fair

DAVISVILLE- More than a hundred Kanawha Elementary School students displayed their literary knowledge Wednesday at the school’s first Reading Fair.

Officials hope the fair, which promotes reading comprehension and a love of books, will become a model for the rest of Wood County.

The day-long event, a sort of social studies fair focused on books, featured more than 70 projects completed by about 120 pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students.

The students competed for first-, second- and third-place awards in each grade level in the category of fiction and school-wide in the category of non-fiction. Each student received a participation ribbon.

The school will announce the winners Friday during an awards assembly.

Wendy Merrifield, a pre-kindergarten teacher at the school, helped organize the event along with music and art teacher Stacy Allman and first-grade teacher Andrea Sinnett.

“We really want our kids to love reading and to want to read,” Merrifield said. “We thought this was a good twist on the typical book report, a way to bring a little more excitement to the process.”

The school purchased tri-fold poster boards with Title I funding and distributed those boards to students who signed up to do projects either individually or as a team. The school distributed about 90 boards in February and about 70 projects were submitted for judging this week, she said.

Each project was required to address 10 “components” while speaking about a book. Among those points were main characters, setting, tone and mood, conflicts within the story and how those conflicts were resolved.

Merrifield said she was blown away by the creativity and quality of the projects.

“I thought I was going to explode with joy,” she said. “I am full of pride for the students of Kanawha.”

The school has seen good support from parents and community members. The school recruited people from the community, retired teachers and Wood County Schools central office staff to help judge projects, she said.

Merrifield said she hopes to make the Reading Fair an annual event and to take the project to other schools in Wood County.

Principal Mike DeRose said he was thrilled with the idea and how students and staff took to the Reading Fair.

“I’m glad I’m not a judge. They are all so good,” he said.

DeRose said he was pleased to see students set aside some of the technological distractions to sit down with a book.

“There is nothing like reading a good-old book,” he said.