Kickoff for book challenge spreads reading fever at school

Posted: September 27, 2013

The Winchester Star

Students, teachers and staff at Greenwood Mill Elementary School parade around holding their favorite books Thursday as a kickoff for their reading initiative, now in its third year. The challenge is for all to read at least 35 books in a year. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)
Enthusiasm for a favorite book was contagious at Greenwood Mill Thursday during the parade.
Every good parade needs a marching band and percussionists from Millbrook High School led the 35 Book Challenge kickoff parade Thursday at Greenwood Mill Elementary School. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)
Greenwood Mill Elemetary School first-grade teacher Tammy Look marches in the 35 Book Challenge kick-off parade at the school Thursday. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)


Greenwood Mill Elementary School students were all smiles and cheer Thursday over books.

About 1,000 people — 800 of them students — marched in a parade around the Frederick County school, holding their favorite books proudly in the air.

Percussionists from the Millbrook High School marching band led the parade and the school’s alligator mascot participated along with Principal Kris Waldrop and teachers and staff.

As part of a reading initiative that’s now in its third year, Waldrop said she is challenging all staff and students at Greenwood Mill — which serves kindergarten through fifth grade — to read 35 books this school year.

“It’s really become part of the culture of our school,” she said of the challenge, adding that last year they read 30 books and the year before, 25.

Students typically choose a reward for if they complete the challenge, but this is the first year for a kickoff parade.

“We’re trying to get it even more exciting and engaging from the get-go,” Waldrop said as a group of students near her began chanting to see their alligator. “As you can see, just being here generates such excitement.”

And, she added, everyone in the school — which was closed for the parade — is proudly reading together, including physical education, music and art classes.

“I think one of the most important things to remember is, the better students are at reading, the better students are at all content areas,” Waldrop said.

She said the school’s goal is to create lifelong readers.

Brigham Grol, 10, who is in fifth grade, said he likes to read because he gets a lot of ideas from books.

“I like adventure and fantasy and sword fighting,” he said, holding up a book titled “Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters.”

He added that the parade kind of surprised him but that he thought it was fun.

“I think it inspires [other students] to read more books,” he said.

Samara Lozano, a 9-year-old third-grader, held up a book titled “Joey Pigza Loses Control” as she marched around the school.

“It’s fun,” she said of the parade. “It shows people how much you love the book.”

She added that she likes to read because “books are fun.”

Jasmine Sisk, 10, said she likes to read about wolves.

The fifth-grader held a book titled “The Rise of the Black Wolf.”

“I’m just now reading it, but so far it’s a really great book,” she said. “[I’m holding it] because I love wolves and I like to be, like, creepy.”

She added that the parade also made her want to read.

“Because, if you think about it, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade and fifth grade are all getting together and getting excited just for books,” Sisk said.

And she isn’t the only one who likes to read about animals.

Caleya Brooks, 8, touted a book about snakes.

“It’s really interesting,” the third-grader said of the book. “[I like to read] because it’s really interesting and you learn a lot of stuff.”

Braxton Washington, 7, who is in second grade, held a book up at the parade because it had penguins in it, and a fellow student, first-grader Paul Eisenhower, 6, held up a page from his book with a crocodile on it.

Eisenhower said he likes to read because “there are some really good books.”

He said he held up “The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse” because it had the school mascot in it.

Library media specialist Jef Mueller said he loved seeing all the students so excited about reading.

“There is a culture of reading at this school that I haven’t seen before,” he said. “These kids love books.”

— Contact Melissa Boughton at