PRCUE reading fair provides many lessons for students

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Over 300 students at Pearl River Central Upper Elementary School are participating in the Mississippi Reading Fair with hopes of advancing to the regional competition.

Students in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades handpick the books they wish to feature in the project. After reading their book, the students then create a poster board display of what they learned about the author and aspects about the book.

According to the Mississippi Department of Education, the purpose of the reading fair is to give the students an opportunity to share their favorite book through a project/storyboard display.

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However, PRCUE Assistant Principal Diana Sweigart said she sees the project as more than just a way for the students to share their thoughts about their favorite book.

“They learn how to speak in front of a crowd and how to be well organized when they make their poster board displays,” Sweigart said. “The students have so much fun and you can see that they have all learned something from it, which is our goal.”

Every student is required to complete the project for a class grade, and initially give a presentation about their project to their teacher. Then, it is up to the student if they want to register their project in the reading fair.

Once a student registers in the reading fair, their project is viewed by a panel of judges who also listen to each student’s presentation.

“Most of the kids are really excited to talk about their projects,” Elsie Lazana, a reading fair judge, said. “They want to tell us every little thing about the book they read and I think that is just tremendous.”

When evaluating each project, the judges take into account not only the appeal of the poster board, but also the quality of the presentation, how much work the students do themselves and how well the students know the book they chose, Lazana said.

In the reading fair contest, there are three categories from which a student can choose, including non-fiction, fiction and family.

In the non-fiction category, all of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders compete against one another, and only the student who comes in first place will advance to the regional reading fair competition. The fiction category is broken up into two divisions, one just for 3rd graders and the second includes both 4th and 5th grade students. The first place winners of those two divisions in the fiction category will also advance to the regional competition.

The final category, family or group, is described as a project that entailed the help of three or more people, to complete a bulk of the project, Sweigart said. The first place winner of this category will move on to the regional competition.

Some of the first place winners were announced on Tuesday and others will be announced later today or on Thursday during the reading fair closing ceremony. This is also when the awards will be given out, which include a first place trophy, medals for second and third and multiple honorable mentions for each category. The ceremony will be held in the auditorium at the school.

The regional competition for PRCUE will be held at the Lake Terrance Convention Center in Hattiesburg on February 24, 2017.