Captivated students filled the halls and classrooms of Bear Creek Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 10, which isn’t an unusual sight. The difference from any other day is all students were quiet and contemplative as they listened to stories told by volunteers, educators and a professional author.
The annual All Bear Creek Reads event, which precedes National Reading Month, saw students connect with books and explore a love for reading.
“They are exposed to how literacy can impact their daily lives,” said Anita Schuh, a gifted educator at BCES. “The purpose is to immerse students in the written language and build an appreciation for the art of reading.”
The day began with assemblies broken up by grade level led by author Justin Mattot, a professional author for more than 12 years dedicated to sharing his love for reading and sharing anti-bullying messaging. The Colorado Author’s Hall of Fame member is known for books such as “Ol’ Lady Grizelda,” “I think my dog might be a nerd,” “Go ask mom!” and many others.
For more than an hour, Mattot shared his story with the students, ranging from topics such as his upbringing, his love for reading and writing and life lessons on bullying and his professional career. The range of topics drew laughs from his audience, but also kept hundreds of students engaged from start to finish.
“Any time you can provide students with an authentic opportunity, students become engaged. They begin to develop their own creative interests and explore their own passions,” Schuh, who helped organize the event with Angie McNett and Principal Peggy Parsley, said.
All the while, students not at their grade-level assembly were treated to guest readers visiting their classrooms to share readings of their favorite books. Guest readers ranged from school leaders to Lewis-Palmer School District 38 administrators and even a guest appearance from Board of Education Director Tiffiney Upchurch.
“The students were engaged and focused with Justin’s presentation. They also enjoyed having readers that are typically not in their classroom read to them. This gave them the opportunity to see members of our school in a different view,” Schuh said.
Beyond this shared love for reading, school leaders tied writing into the fold, propping up a writing competition that a local publisher helped judge. The top three students from each grade joined Mattot for lunch and a more intimate discussion.
Schuh said she hopes students absorbed the energy felt throughout the building and use it to elevate their love for reading to the next level.
“Literacy is the most important aspect of our academic lives. The ability to read impacts every aspect of daily life,” Schuh said. “Providing students with opportunities to read allows them to explore a much larger world and build critical thinking skills that create a stronger community.”