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Diplomat students participate in Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!

By Staff | Jan 29, 2016

Students at Diplomat Middle School spent the week learning about how fun reading can be.

The Just Read, Florida! Office and the Florida Department of Education marked Jan. 25-29 as the eighth annual statewide Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! At the Cape school, students took part in competitions and a costume contest, got to “bend” the rules and were visited by guest VIP readers.

“We’re really just trying to promote reading,” Diplomat Middle School Principal Maura Bennington said on Friday. “Some kids just don’t read – this is just getting every student to read a book.”

On Wednesday, students who brought their own reading materials were permitted to wear hats at school. The next day, participating students were allowed to wear flip-flops to “slide into reading.” A short essay contest, literacy competition and book donation drive were held throughout the week.

“The kids have ben doing competitions all week,” she said.

On Friday, teachers, staff and students dressed up as their favorite book characters. Eight winners – some from every grade level – were treated to a pizza party with former NFL player Earnest Graham.

Kathy Adams, a media specialist at the school and one of the organizers behind the week’s activities, added that Graham also provided autographed copies of the book “Football Hero” to the winners. Now the head football coach at North Fort Myers High School, Graham was one of the guest VIP readers.

“Reading, I believe, allowed me to achieve a lot in my life,” he said on Friday.

Graham noted that his mother made a point of pushing him to read.

“Some kids tend to shun reading,” he said, adding that the students’ response is always positive when he reads to a class. “You talk to them about reading being a way to answer questions about life.”

Another guest VIP reader was Steve Teuber, chairman of the Lee County School Board.

He brought with him the book “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” to read to the classes. Teuber explained that the book is a favorite of his daughter, who previously attended the school.

“Anything we can do to get kids to realize reading is fun,” he said on Friday.

Teuber pointed out that no matter the career path, the ability to read will be key for students.

“You need to be able to read,” he said.

According to Bennington, the goal is to show students that reading is fun for everyone.

“We want them to know it’s not just within our own walls. It’s the community, too,” she said.

Sixth-grade language arts teacher Ben Uphoff called the program a success.

“I think they really enjoy it through and through,” he said of his students, explained that the speakers read different books, each introducing them to something new. “It’s kind of like a cliff hanger.”

Some students may even be interested enough to pick up the book.

“I think it reminds them that reading is something they can do for fun,” Uphoff said.

Diplomat Middle School is at 1039 N.E. 16th Terrace.