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Students enjoy free reads and fun at Mission Possible literacy event

By Andie Foley
andie.foley@salisburypost.com

Mid-morning clouds provided just the right coverage for kids of all ages to enjoy some hands-on activities and snag free swag during Rowan-Salisbury School’s back-to-school reading celebration, Mission Possible.

The celebration, held Saturday in the parking lot of the Wallace Educational Forum, featured representatives from school districts across the county

According to Eisa Cox, the Rowan-Salisbury Schools executive director of programs, Mission Possible was held in effort to promote reading across local communities, and it was a partnership between the school system, Rowan Public Library and the Three Wide Foundation.

“We’re excited, and we have a lot of support from our schools and communities,” she said as festivities kicked off Saturday morning.

Some schools in attendance helped incentivize children to read through designing their own bookmarks: the East Rowan community of schools helped attendees create “tie-dye” bookmarks with markers, paper and rubbing alcohol. North Rowan went a different route, dyeing the page markers with food coloring in shaving cream.

South quizzed passersby with a dice game and prize wheel, requiring the reading of site words or asking questions about their favorite reads.

At the West booth, students used Legos to spell words as part of an existing “Legos for Literacy” program.

Many booths offered chances for young attendees to sign pledge cards for reading goals as the school year continued.

“We’re hoping kids will pledge to read, whether it’s every day or a certain number of books,” said Renee Fox, instructional coach at East Rowan High and Erwin Middle schools.

Others brought books to life with connecting activities. China Grove Middle School, one representative of the Southeast community, helped learners create colorful dots on coffee filters inspired by the book “The Dot” by Peter Reynolds.

The North, Salisbury and Southeast community booths complimented their reading incentives with STEM — science, technology, engineering — activities. North encouraged literacy with a little bit of math by sharing recipes and some sweet, bake-at-home treats, and Salisbury schools had a wide range of toys for tinkering

“This is our first table so far,” said North Rowan teacher Heather Weber, out with her two children Harmony and Jayden. Harmony was playing with a marble maze, and Jayden a magnetic circuit system from the Salisbury school district. “We may not get any further.”

Also at the Southeast booth, students took to the controls of Spheros, tiny rolling drones, to spread paint across a paper. The RSS STEM Exploration Lab provided a similar programing experience with a “Bugs in the Kitchen” game.

Stars of the show, however, came through a featured author and storyteller, not to mention free sno cones from The Chill and the chance to stuff a bag with free reads and a T-shirt from the school system.

Author Da’Tarvia Parrish, a history and humanities professor at Livingstone, was out with her books “Seven’s Heaven” and “Jailbirds Don’t Fly,” offering free copies and signatures. Storyteller Judy Morris, or “Miss Judy,” enraptured listeners with stories from her past.

Seeing the biggest numbers was the RSS “book shop,” with tables full of books for all ages. Each young attendee was given a bag and the chance to fill it as much as desired.

Books were donated from schools, community partners, churches, businesses and Achieve 3000, and rested near bags of parent info and piles of free “extraordinary T-shirts.”

“We have pallets of them,” said Crystal Merk, elementary instructional lead teacher. “The whole back of (a moving) … truck is full. … The kids have really been excited.”

Merck spoke of one young reader who paused before filling his bag, asking “Do we really get to keep all these?”

Yes, she told him, as many as he’d like.

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