Lyman Hall students were surprised Wednesday morning when special guest Ronald McDonald walked in through a side door of the gymnasium, juggling balls in his normal yellow and red-striped attire.
The school requested the 45-minute program called “It’s Book Time with Ronald McDonald” about two weeks ago to coordinate with the school’s celebration of National Children’s Book Week, Lyman Hall media specialist Diana Anderson said. The theme for the week was “Dance your socks off; get your read on!” to keep things fun for students, Anderson said.
“This whole week has just been about reading being fun and education, but it can also be done for pleasure,” she said. “This week was focused on pleasure reading.”
McDonald performed a variety of magic tricks throughout the show and called on a young volunteer to help him spell the word “library.” The event was offered to the school for free.
“You know, you can learn so many things from books. There’s all sorts of wonderful things you can find in books,” Ronald McDonald told the students as he stood atop the shiny wood stage in the school gym. “Our library card is our ticket to adventures and books.”
The famous food-chain face brought out his sock puppet friend, Stoogie, to read along and tell a story about a stormy night while encouraging audience participation. After students split into groups on the floor, he asked half of them to make howling wind noises while the others created rain sounds. Teachers stood up and swiped invisible lightning bolts in the air, as McDonald directed the audience to do as he read the story aloud.
Throughout the week, special guest readers visited classrooms and spoke with students about the importance of reading. Several times throughout the day, music peppered hallways and classrooms, prompting students to jump up and dance in place before settling back down and reading for a designated amount of time.
David Resto, 8, who loves the book “Robin Hood,” said he enjoys the dancing aspect of the special reading week and wishes there could be more time set aside for free reading.
“You’ve got to learn stuff from it and you need an education so you can get a good job,” Resto said of the importance of reading. “If you read enough, you may be able to get a good job.”
Originally, the Liberty County School System celebrated National Children’s Book Week with the rest of the nation the week before Thanksgiving. Last year, the national celebration changed to the first week in May, and Lyman Hall Elementary was the only school in the district to switch to the new schedule, Anderson said. The new switch also falls after the CRCT test, which allows Lyman Hall students to focus fully on the test in the fall, the media specialist said.
Students also have collected Accelerated Reader points throughout the week. The school’s goal was to collect 800 total points and have a passing rate of 85 percent.
Although the school exceeded the first part of the goal with a total of 968 points for reading books — each book on the designated Accelerated Reader list is worth a certain number of points — the students just barely met the second part with an 85.1-percent passing rate.
As a result, administrators promised to participate in an outlandish reward program. Next week, the assistant principal and principal will be duct-taped together and make their way into the gym as “one” person. They also will be blindfolded and have to feed one another spaghetti, Anderson said.
The announcement was made to students shortly after the points had been tallied Wednesday.