Memorial Primary students get caught up in 'Charlotte's Web' - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Memorial Primary students get caught up in 'Charlotte's Web'

PRINCETON (NEWS RELEASE) -- Every teacher at Memorial School began this morning on page 1 of E. B. White's Charlotte's Web. While children ate their breakfast in the classroom, their teachers read to them about Fern Arable, a farmer's daughter who saves a piglet - whom she names Wilber -- the tiny runt of the litter.

The children's classic, a "chapter book" is a gentle story that has inspired generations of youngsters with kindly wisdom about friendship. Its whimsical humor and matter-of-fact wisdom about life and death are conveyed through the unlikely friendship between Wilber, a pig, and a spider named Charlotte.

Memorial principal Becky Peery believes the story can be enjoyed and understood by all students - even those too young to read it for themselves. "I got the idea from Mercer School principal Kelli Stanley," Peery said, "They were reading 'The Wizard of Oz," and I immediately said 'I want some of that for Memorial.'"

The whole-school activity is designed to underscore the four reading skills Memorial's students most need to strengthen: connecting to the text, making inferences, predicting outcomes, and retelling what they heard or read.

"These are Common Core standards," Peery said, "and we are already preparing our students to be successful readers and thinkers."

Peery has oodles of ideas up her sleeve. "I don't know what is getting ready to happen today," she said, "but I have a John Deere tractor in my driveway and I've borrowed a pig for the day. Memorial's cafeteria is filled with balloons, a small barn, some decorative spider webs, and quotes from Charlotte herself."

After lunch, Peery and teacher Ashley Taylor, dressed in character costumes, will meet the children outside to kick off their Charlotte's Web program. Children will also get to meet a real-life Wilber and see Mr. Arable's tractor.

In the coming days, the students will be encouraged to create 3D farm animals to be displayed in the school cafeteria.

Memorial faculty hope that children will be so caught up in Charlotte's Web that they won't want to be absent or tardy. Listening to chapter books in daily installments is one of several incentives aimed at improving daily attendance among the school's 215 youngsters.

According to Peery, teachers are working on several different levels to improve attendance. Through collaboration with Jeff Lester of Horace Mann, a number of incentives are being offered to children who manage to attend school every day with no tardies or early dismissals and no missed buses. Children who meet the strict standards for any given month will receive a medal and be entered into a drawing to win a brand new bicycle at the end of each semester. Additionally, trophies will be awarded weekly to the grade level classes with the highest percentage of perfect attendance.

Peery, who bubbles with excitement about her school, added that, in December, Memorial teachers will kick off another children's classic, Little House on the Prairie. "In January the Barter will present Little House here in a free performance," Peery added, "along with The Emperor's New Clothes."

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