Junior high students help others ‘Get the Story’
Have you ever dreamed of going on your own special adventure? Maybe you wanted to set sail in search of buried treasure or get rescued from a dungeon by a handsome prince. For students at Overlook Elementary School, their dreams of adventure are about to come true thanks to students at Abington Junior High School.
Junior high students met with Overlook students Dec. 14 for a special “Get the Story” gathering.
A tradition that spans 10 years, “Get the Story” is a program where students from Abington junior or senior high schools are paired with an elementary student to learn more about them so they can write a story staring their new little friend.
“The point of this gathering is so the younger students can model people close to their age who share a love of reading,” said Overlook reading specialist Marie Reynolds. “We just don’t want students to read, but [want them] to love it.”
This year 70 junior high students from the honor’s society and 68 Overlook students were involved in the initiative. During their time together, the students share interests, discuss books, color and enjoy getting to know each other. In addition, the older students come prepared with a list of questions to interview their buddy.
The questions range from “What’s your favorite color?” to “What do like to do at recess?” The information gathered from the visit is then incorporated into the personalized story written by the junior high student.
During the gathering, students could be seen reading on the carpet and coloring at the tables.
Ninth-grader Stefanie Rath was paired with 5-year-old Noah who said he wanted to be a secret spy who has lots of gadgets.
Lizzie O’Leary, an eighth-grader, said she learned a lot about her little buddy, 6-year-old Nate, whose favorite sports are football and basketball.
“In the story I think I’m going to have Nate playing one of his favorite sports,” O’Leary said. “But I’m still thinking of ideas.”
Fellow eight-graders Katie Travor and Emma Serianni were paired up with 5-year-old Violette who likes cats and playing hide-and-go-seek. Travor said she might write a story where Violette losses her cat and has to find her.
“I like being paired up with the younger students,” she said. “It gives them a chance to know what it feels like to have an older sister or brother if they don’t have one.”
“It’s just nice to get to get to know them,” added Serianni.
For some of the junior high students, who were once kindergarteners at Overlook, the gathering provided them with a full-circle experience, and many were excited to be back at their alma mater as mentors.
“It’s surreal to be back,” said eighth-grader Kristen Sparhawk. “I can’t believe how long it’s been.”
“It’s so cool to come back and be a role model,” said ninth-grader Elizabeth Brown.
The gathering is special because it shows kindergarteners that reading is important at every level, said Stephanie Gates a co-sponsor of the junior high honor’s society.
In February the junior high students will return to Overlook to read and present their kindergarten buddies with their published stories, which will also have illustrations and be bound like a real book, said Carla Perchi fellow co-sponsor of the junior high honors society.
The students will also enjoy an ice cream sundae party, she said.
“My students get very excited that someone from the junior high is coming to visit them,” said one of Overlook’s kindergwarten teachers Natalie Simmons. “[Being with the older students] gives them something to aspire too.”
Phillip Denelsbeck watches Joseph Baskerbill select toys from a box during the “Get the Story” program.