Mettawee students travel the world through books

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WEST RUPERT — No less than poet Rainer Maria Rilke once said, "Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading."

The Austrian-born Rilke was the inspiration for this year's Books and Beyond program at the Mettawee Community School, encouraging students and parents to explore diversity from Reading Around the World. This academic year's reading achievements were celebrated in an all-school assembly on Tuesday, June 11th, at the Mettawee Community School.

Reading has a rich tradition at the Mettawee School. Each September students and parents develop and sign-off on a Books and Beyond plan that aims to create lifelong readers.

The school year is divided into eight segments, or stations, which must be completed by the end of May. The assignments range from picture books for the little ones in kindergarten to chapter books for the older students. Benchmarks are established at various points throughout the school year for students, parents and teachers to monitor progress.

Students, for example, are encouraged to complete at least four stations that can be reviewed in the February Parent/Teacher conference. The Mettawee school augments the annual reading program with a book fair in April, an All-School Read in March. Students also create posters to celebrate their reading smarts and to decorate the school.

Each year, the Books and Beyond program has a theme. For the 2018-19, the focus on Reading Around the World, allowed the kids to explore diversity by reading about other countries and cultures.

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"It is time for us to teach our young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength," says Mettawee School Principal, Brooke DeBonis. "Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing and celebrating one another's uniqueness."

That sentiment was on full display at the June 11 reading celebration. Every single student was recognized on stage for accomplishing their personal reading goals. Parents, families and friends were in the audience. The kids sang songs from around the world, participated in a Mexican hat dance, and listened to a special reading of Australian writer Mem Fox's, "Whoever You Are," by school librarian, Kelly Ahlfeld.

The second grade was given the honor of announcing that $102.86 had been raised by Mettawee students for the Heifer International, Milk Money for Africa Program. The natural food company, Bear Nibbles, provided reusable book bags for the students along with healthy snacks and international trading cards.

Kimberly Donaldson, Mettawee teacher and literacy interventionist, served as both the producer of the June celebration and as the overall manager of the 2018-19 Books and Beyond program. Throughout the year, Donaldson was ably assisted by fellow teacher and literacy interventionist, Lauren Kelly.

The 2018-19 school year and Books and Beyond Celebration may be over, but the reading tradition at the Mettawee School continues. The day after the ceremony the cycle begins again with students reading over the summer to earn a Six Flags/Great Escape pass for the following summer.

At the Mettawee School the students read. All around the year.

For more information, contact DeBonis at 802-645-9009.


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