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Community: Are you Smarter than a Fifth-Grader?

by Katharine Kelley / Carolina Hurricanes

Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?

Katharine Kelley
Some of you might be familiar with that show or board game, but if not, it basically tests your knowledge against fifth-grade curriculum. I like to think that I possess the knowledge to come out victorious if I went head-to-head against a fifth-grader. However, this past Monday, many fifth-graders (and one fourth-grade student) proved to me that they could give me a run for my money, especially when it comes to interpreting life lessons from books.

This past Monday, we hosted the fourth annual Pick Up a Book and Read Essay Recognition Luncheon at the RBC Center to recognize 20 essay finalists. We invited the students’ parents and teachers to help celebrate their reading and writing achievements. Each student opted to participate in the contest by writing a two-page essay on one of their favorite books they read during the reading portion of the program. The guidelines of the essay ask that each student provide a brief plot summary, discuss what he/she liked best and least about the book, and lastly, what he/she learned from the book.

Hurricanes defenseman Joe Corvo, Stormy and radio play-by-play announcer Chuck Kaiton were also on hand to praise the students for their reading and writing achievements. Corvo got to the lunch early and went from table to table visiting with each student, signing autographs, taking pictures and discussing the importance of reading. He also helped Stormy pass out Certificates of Excellence and Cam Ward bobbleheads to each participating student. Chuck Kaiton gave a keynote speech on the importance of reading and writing and how it applies to his profession.

Then comes my favorite part - the top five essays read aloud by the students. This is the point where I questioned whether or not I was indeed smarter than a fifth-grader. The students confidently stood behind a podium and faced 80 guests while they individually shared their essays with the crowd. I don’t ever remember having the poise to stand in front of 80 people (mostly adults) and read an essay I wrote. Moreover, each student shared his/her personal lessons learned from the book.

• One student stood up against bullying thanks to a book called “Crissa.” She also gave a shout-out to her mom for caring and being involved in her life (this lesson really made my eyes water, especially with how prevalent bullying stories are in the news).
• After reading “The Batboy,” another student learned that you always have to give people second chances, and if things are not going your way, don’t give up.
• Similarly, another essay reader learned from “Tuck Everlasting” that everyone has a time to live and a time to die, and we have to take advantage of the life we are given.

These are just brief examples of the lessons shared, and I definitely learned something from each student who wrote an essay. The top five essay writers also went home with gift certificates for The Eye and autographed pucks. All in all, it was a great day, and it gave us all a little reminder that we can all be better people.

The Essay Recognition Luncheon generally signifies the end of the Pick Up a Book and Read incentive reading program. This year, 2,500 students from 47 different schools participated in the reading portion. The Charlotte Checkers helped expand the program into Mecklenburg County, and nearly 1,000 students participated across the Charlotte area. We have also been wrapping up the assemblies that the top three reading schools earned. We’ve already been to Penny Road Elementary, and we’re headed to Lincoln Heights Elementary next week. Hopefully soon after, we’ll be making our way to Sanford to visit Deep River Elementary School. The top three schools are treated to an assembly with Stormy where they participate in some trivia and then enjoy equipment relay races against competing classrooms.

We are excited about the continuing expansion of the program, and we feel that it offers many rewarding opportunities for hard working students. And, don’t forget…if you get the chance to test your knowledge with a fifth-grader, I warn you, they are definitely smarter than you might remember.

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