By TEDDYE SNELL
The media center at Tahlequah Middle School was buzzing with activity Monday as last-minute preparations for the annual Scholastic Book Fair got under way.
This year’s theme, “Dive Into a Good Book,” prompted staffers to promote a nautical theme, complete with an octopus and a diver hovering from the ceiling. The walls were draped in blue cloth, which cast a blue hue throughout the media center.
Dr. Brenda Maddan, TMS media specialist, said she’s excited about this year’s event.
“In addition to offering lots of great books to the kids, we’re promoting our ‘One For Books’ program,” said Maddan. “We leave a jar on the counter and people can put their change from their purchases in the jar. At the end of the fair, we use that money to buy books to give to underprivileged children here.”
Other promotions for the program include a basketball “buyout,” in which students can purchase tickets to attend a game pitting teachers against students.
“We’ll also have a pig-kissing event,” said Maddan. “We’ll have three jars in the media center, one for each administrator – including Principal DeAnn Mashburn, and Vice Principals Philip Bush and David Bookout. Kids will vote on who they want to kiss the pig by placing change in the designated jar. The one with the most money has to kiss the pig.”
Maddan appreciates administrators’ willingness to participate for the cause.
“The book fair will be open daily from Feb. 29 through March 9,” said Maddan. “We’ll be open for parent-teacher conferences on March 8, and encourage everyone to stop by the media center, visit with the staff and make a purchase.”
Maddan works hard to keep teens interested in reading.
“The staff and I read every single book we get, so we can tell the students what each one is about,” said Maddan. “We talk the books up, and then, if it happens to become a movie, the books just take off like wildfire. For instance, I can’t keep ‘The Hunger Games’ on the shelves now.”
The Johnson-O’Malley fair is held in conjunction with the book fair. Each JOM student will receive a $10 gift certificate to spend at the event.
“While we could take some of the book fair proceeds in cash, we always use the profit for books,” said Maddan. “I want books in kids’ hands. It’s better all the way around.”
The computer lab portion of the center is decorated in a Hawaiian luau theme.
“We’ll have cookies and punch on March 8, family night,” said Maddan. “We really get the entire school involved in this event. Our fifth- and eighth-graders have made paper fish to put on all of the walls; the art teacher and his students are making a giant shark’s mouth that will serve as the entrance to the book area. Our support here is just fantastic.”
Eighth-graders Kenzy Hammond and Marisela Sierra were helping out Monday afternoon.
“I’m going to get ‘Unearthly,’” said Marisela. “I just now saw it and read the back cover and really want to read it.”
Kenzy is a fan of “Hunger Games.”
“We’ve been helping put the fair together for about two weeks now,” said Kenzy.
TMS teachers are also creating their own “wish lists” for the fair.
“Teachers who attend our sneak peek [today] will get a $5 gift certificate to spend at the fair,” said Maddan. “Also, any student who purchases a book to donate to their teacher’s wish list will receive a grab-bag filled with novelties.”
Maddan said other promotions include a candy-jar guess. Each student who purchases a book will be able to cast a guess as to how much candy is in the jar. Whoever comes closest will win the candy,” said Maddan. “I love this time of year. Every single student comes through the book fair at least once, and often more than that. I promise you, on Wednesday, they will be lined up at the door waiting for us to open.”
Those unable to attend the fair aren’t out of luck, said Madden. Books can also be purchased at www.scholastic.com/schoolbookfairs, and orders ship to the school for free for pickup by students. The site also allows youth to create wish lists and send eCards to family and friends.
According to the Scholastic website, the company hosts more than 120,000 book-sale events each year, giving more than 35 million students access to thousands of educational products.
To provide schools with timely and interesting material, Scholastic Book Fairs’ team of experts – former educators, booksellers and book fair veterans – reviews thousands of titles from hundreds of publishers. The fairs help generate more than $175 million in fundraising for school projects and classroom materials.
The Scholastic Book Fair also runs concurrent with Read Across America Week, the National Education Association’s motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in the community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of children’s author Dr. Seuss.