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Local celebrities read to Nettle Creek students

Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 8:47 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 3, 2014 9:34 p.m. CDT

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MORRIS – Reading is a lifelong love for many people, and educators know that early literacy leads to better reading habits as students grow.

Students at Nettle Creek school were on hand at the fourth annual family reading night Tuesday where local celebrities took turns reading to them and their families.

“When a school is this small, you have to come up with new ideas for events,” said Marissa Darling, a teacher at the school. “We’ve had former Nettle Creek teachers come and read. Last year, we had a game style event. This year, Dr. McKinney came up with the idea to have different people from the community come in as celebrity readers.”

Reading to the students and their families was Sheriff Kevin Callahan, Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick, Morris police officer Scott Ator, Morris Fire Chief Tracey Steffes, Morris Community High School Principal Kelly Hussey, and Morris Area Public Library Children’s Librarian Carol Hutchings.

Most of those reading had books chosen that had to do with their profession, and they took the time to answer questions from the children.

As Steffes read from “Stop Drop and Roll,” he strayed from the story to talk to the children about fire safety that was being addressed in the book.

He told the students that if their bedroom was on the second floor and there was a fire, they could open the window and use a bright item of clothing to wave out the window in addition to yelling for help.

Sheriff Callahan read the book “Ten Gallon Bart,” which features Bart the mayor of Dog City and his battle with Billy the Kid, “the roughest, toughest, gruffest goat in the county,” who is coming to eat the town.

As Callahan read, the children sat mesmerized as his voice took on characters, and words like cough were acted out instead of read.

After hearing the book, 7-year-old Cohen Gross said his favorite part was that Billy the Kid turned out nice.

“All kids should be nice,” he said.

Joey Vinachi, 7, said he thought it was “awesome” to have the sheriff read to him.

“My wife has taught at Nettle Creek for 28 years. It’s good to read to kids,” Callahan said. “The kids are used to seeing the DARE officer out here and police who are doing their normal role, but it’s good for the kids to see us in a different role and to know we are good.”

Superintendent Don McKinney said by inviting the celebrity readers, kids can see that the sheriff, the police, firefighters and principals are all readers.

“We offer the event to focus on reading,” McKinney said. “It’s geared to our kindergarten through third graders, but we include the parents and siblings because you’re never too old to be read to.”

Stephanie Delhara attended with her children, 8-year-old Aden and 6-year-old Austin, because they love reading, and they could take advantage of the book fair to purchase books.

“I love that the school puts on this type of event,” she said. “It gets parents involved with their kids at school.”

Austin said he liked attending because it was fun.

Morris High Principal Hussey chose to read “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” a favorite book of his. He said he loves being able to give back what his teachers taught him, and his children’s teachers taught them. By doing this, the hope is the children attending will one day share it with their children.

“It’s like practicing for my grandchildren,” Hussey said.

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