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Promoting the love of reading, six visitors entertain students

As Cluster Springs Elementary students began their school day Thursday morning, it was not like any other school day. 

Instead of opening up textbooks, they were quickly placed in a fun day of animated speakers who each offered something different for the school’s annual Storytelling Festival.  

Students rotated from various areas of the schools as they listened to stories from six guest speakers, David Novak, Andy Coe, Kim Weitkamp, Shelia Arnold and Barbara Lawson. 

This was the third annual event for the school, and the second time Novak and Arnold had visited. 

From 8:45 a.m. to 3:05 p.m., students and teachers listened to a mixture of nursery rhymes and stories that some would be familiar with such as Jack and Jill as well as personal stories, each presented in an energetic way. 

Every story brought a life lesson and several laughs along the way. 

Lowery was a big hit with second graders in Roberta William’s classroom. 

He entertained students as he taught them about different animal calls he incorporated into his stories. 

And, what the students remembered the most was his accompanying live rooster, especially Laeorshia Hankins. 

Hankins said she also enjoyed when Lowery tricked the other students. However, she said she wasn’t fooled. 

During one of his stories, Lowery had a bucket, Hankins said, and as he told the story he began to move the bucket in a motion as if he was going to throw water on them. 

Hankins said it wasn’t water in the bucket, and no one got wet. 

“It was just balled up pieces of paper, but it was funny,” said Hankins. 

Alex Cole had a different opinion from most of his other classmates. He enjoyed Andy Coe the most. 

Coe told the students he enjoyed reading Theodor Seuss Geisel, and immediately a student spoke up and said, “That’s Dr. Seuss.”  

“That’s right,” Coe told the student, adding, “I really enjoy Dr. Seuss, but all my children are grown up, so I don’t have anyone to read to now, so I’d like to read them to you.” 

One by one he pulled out several Dr. Seuss books from his bag reading each one using gestures, making faces and sounds. 

“I couldn’t believe his voice. It was so cool how he acted out each person. I just thought to myself, ‘wow he’s good. I don’t know how he does it,”’ said Cole. 

In Samantha Smith’s class, her first graders had a fun time enjoying all the speakers, but three students said their favorites were Arnold and Novak. 

Jake Moneymaker said Arnold was “silly,” and he liked how she acted out her stories and moved around. 

Arnold told the story of the “Barking Mouse” that gave her the chance to teach students a bit of Spanish. 

She also told a personal story about herself and a childhood friend, Jimmy, who both learned that it’s not okay to tease people and how standing up for someone is something that one will never forget. 

However, Moneymaker’s favorite was when Arnold clapped real fast, and when she did the “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” 

His classmate Cole Foushee agreed. 

Another one of their classmates, BonNasia Harper enjoyed Novak the most because he acted out his stories using string. 

Robin Reeves’ first grade class almost unanimously agreed they enjoyed Arnold the most as well. 

Lucas Talbott, with many other classmates agreeing, said it was because she told the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

Others said it was because she told a story about a boy who used a pretend baseball to play ball, and they enjoyed watching her acting as if she was hitting a baseball with her imaginary ball and bat. 

Jamyia South said she enjoyed listening to Arnold sing the most.

“She sang like she was singing in church,” South added. 

Second-grader Breelee Glasscock said all the speakers were her favorites from Weitkamp, who also sang as well as played her guitar, to Lawson, who had a bag full of tricks, and each speaker in between. 

Lawson told nursery rhymes with a twist. Students were called to the front and would pick a hat from her bag and a nursery rhyme. 

With each hat, she became a new character including a grandmother, a socialite and a pirate. 

Lawson would then tell the story in the way that character might read it. She had all the children laughing with her lively performances.

Students took a break in the middle of the day to enjoy a lunch in their classroom before meeting back up in groups to hear the rest of the speakers. 

At night from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., students, parents and members of the community returned to the gym to hear Novak, Arnold and Lawson again.

Title I PAC made the Storytelling Festival, also known as the “mini version of the National Storytelling Festival,” possible for the students.  

The program promotes the love of reading and listening through storytelling.