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Posted: 04/15/09

AUTHORS AND ANIMALS. At left, local author Jonathan Rand was awarded at Powell Middle School's OSCAR awards for having the most popular/checked-out book. Above, fifth-grader Jesus Flores gets a close look at a hedgehog at an assembly held at Amanda Moore Elementary.

(Observer photos by Chris Gray)

Powell students find out
that reading pays off

Observer Staff Writer
      Glitz and glamour, guest readers and even some critters helped show Romeo students the rewards of reading.
       Students were challenged to read as much as possible for "March is Reading Month." As an incentive, assemblies, activities and rewards were offered to students to digest as much literature as possible.
       One of the biggest showings of reading is Powell Middle School's Our Students Care About Reading (OSCAR) awards, where the cafeteria is transformed into a ritzy award ceremony, complete with lights, movies and award presentations.
       To participate, students had to read as many books as they can so they could cast votes toward their favorites in categories such as best male protagonist, best setting and best author.
       "We're doing it not just so you can slack off, but we're doing this because we're all celebrating books and reading and how important it really is," teacher and OSCAR host Patrick Salembier said to students.
       On April 2, students, teachers and administrators dressed in gowns and tuxedos to announce the nominees for various categories. Whereas last year the Harry Potter series took the majority of categories, this year nearly every award was given to the popular vampire series, "Twilight."
       Students dressed as either the character or author to accept the awards. However, a special award saved for the end was given to the actual author.
       Jonathan Rand, who pens the "American Chillers" series, was given the award for the most popular book. The category was based on how many times a book had been checked out of the library.
       "I really appreciate this," he said, holding up the award.
       He emphasized the importance of reading by humorously talking about obtaining a job at a radio station doing commercials because he knew how to read and write.
       "Not because I knew anything about the business, not because I knew anything about the equipment, I got the job because I could read well and I could write well," he said.
       Sixth-grader Brittany Satur said it was cool actually seeing and meeting Rand.
       "He is funny," she said. "He looks like a rock star."
       "I love his books," added fellow sixth-grader Brendan Salva.
       An afterglow was held once the ceremony concluded, complete with music, pizza and chocolate fountains.
       Other schools encouraged and celebrated reading with similar events. For instance, Hamilton-Parsons Elementary wrapped up their reading month by having students from the Romeo High School drama program hold a reading theatre.
       Meanwhile, Amanda Moore Elementary had substitute teacher Andrea Szewczyk bring in a few animals from her exotic pet rescue program on April 3.
       During the presentation, Szewczyk would quiz students on books the animals came from, such as getting them to correctly guess she had hedgehogs by referencing "The Mitten" by Jan Brett.
       "About 90 percent of our kids met their reading goals," said Principal Mark Mulder. "So they got to see the animals as a reward."

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