Spring 2016 National Elementary School Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the Spring 2016 National Elementary School Contest!

The First-Place Winner of 2,000 Scholastic Dollars and a personal visit from author Nick Bruel is:

McLaurin Elementary School
Florence, MS
Chairperson: Stacie Reddoch
Theme: Feelin’ Groovy Book Fair
 

McLaurin Elementary School, a Title I school in rural Mississippi, did not let its challenges, including threatening weather, keep them from hosting a great Book Fair. In fact, facing their challenges head on and devising practical solutions to overcome them fueled the faculty, students, and their families to host one of their best Book Fairs ever and win the top spot of the Spring 2016 National Elementary School Contest!
 
It all started with a Book Fair workshop. Before attending one, the Fair at McLaurin Elementary School had grossed less than $3,000. Ninety percent of the students at the school were on the free/reduced lunch program, and for some, even common necessities such as hot water and electricity were not a given. Books, by many standards, were considered a luxury. The Book Fair workshop gave the chairperson great ideas and more motivation to work around their challenges. They set a books sold goal of 1,600 books; and an All for Books™ goal where every student is able to get a book with the money raised.
 
To overcome their school community’s lack of internet, they relied heavily on advertising via cell phone text messages, as well as traditional signage, posters, custom T-shirts, displays, and even lesson plans. They even included homework for parents! Students watched the Author Video in the café during lunch, and Book Fair volunteers visited the local public library where they posted flyers to invite the community.  They even had their Book Fair featured in the local magazine!
 
The decorations were outta sight—and everywhere! They started decorating the school weeks in advance, peaking students’ interest as new displays showed up daily. They even featured a banned books display in the media center to tie into the 60s theme! A Decked Out Decades Teacher Contest got the faculty amped up for the Fair, while also providing more colorful photo ops and décor as classes competed to win $100 to spend at the Fair for the best decorated bulletin board in the whole school. This also served as a “walk through the decades” during the Book Fair Preview.
 
Book Fair week kicked off with the roaring 20s, sock hopped into Tuesday with 50s day, grooved along to Wednesday’s Groovy Hippie Day, turned rad on Thursday for Neon Radical Rave, and then partied on to Friday with Rock ’N Roll 90s Day. The students and the teachers could not contain their excitement as they dressed to the nines every single day!
 
As if that wasn’t enough, the Book Fair volunteer team, which included 45 adults and 60 Junior Crew members, planned four different events to accommodate as many loved ones’ schedules as possible. During 1950s day, they hosted a Moms Sock Hop Social where students could shop the Fair with their moms and compete in a hand jive contest. That night, families came together for the Family Sock Hop and Book Fair Night with free family crafts, dancing, and refreshments. A Hippie Dippie Dads Day gave fathers and students a great opportunity to dance the Twist and shop for books, while the Gnarly Grandparents Day invited Grands to shop the Fair, wearing neon colors, of course! After each day and event, the chairperson uploaded pictures of the day in a slide show on the school website to foster the love of the Fair and a warm sense of community within the school.
 
By the end of the week, McLaurin Elementary School surpassed all of their spring Book Fair goals, selling more books than ever before and awarding the school the What Would You Do for Reading?® challenge—a schoolwide color run!
 
Not only did they overcome numerous challenges and pull off an award-winning Book Fair, the team at McLaurin Elementary School did so with a lot of hard work and a ton of heart. Congratulations to this well-deserving school of the first-place prize!

Second-place winners of 1,000 Scholastic Dollars are:

Pearre Creek Elementary School 
Franklin, TN 
Chairperson: Julie Boggess
Theme: Groovy Book Fair

Pearre Creek Elementary School had quite a blast at their Groovy Book Fair, adding many firsts to their plan. And, even though the Fair had to be pushed back a month due to changing test dates, their overall sales still increased by 29 percent!
 
The Book Fair chairperson makes a video every Fair, and this Fair was no different.  Dressed up in tie dye and a blonde wig, she “walked” students through the Fair. It not only shared valuable information about shopping, taxes, and putting together a wish list, it also got them excited about the Fair. In addition, the inaugural Junior Crew also helped promote the Fair, organizing and delivering flyers, hanging posters, and merchandising the Fair.
 
But that’s not the only thing! There was an epic All for Books change drive, where students paid to dress up each day, and classes that raised more than $100 won a popcorn party and a $10 gift certificate for their classroom library. Local movie theaters donated nine bags of popcorn, and 15 classes won this prize! All in all, they raised more than $3,000 for All for Books, more than $500 past their goal. The reward? Seeing the Book Fair chairperson and school administration lip sync and dance in front of the whole school!
 
The Family Event was also no small feat. Partnering with the PTO, the Book Fair chairperson organized several food trucks to attend, face painters, and balloon artists, too. Even former students came and lamented how much they missed the Book Fairs at Pearre Creek!
 
And for the first time, the school hosted a Donuts With Someone Grand event, and had a Junior Crew. The Donuts With Someone Grand Event was held over three mornings. Students were assigned by last name and enjoyed donut holes in the cafeteria with their special someone, and then they enjoyed shopping the Book Fair together. Each day averaged $2,000 in sales in an hour!
 
Peace, love, and books abounded at Pearre Creek Elementary School. From stellar decorations and decked out teachers, this Book Fair was one of their best yet!

Hosp Elementary School 
Frisco, TX
Chairperson: Jennifer Archer
Theme: Reading Takes You Places

The students and faculty of Hosp Elementary School may not have traveled outside the walls of their school, but they sure did see the world at their spring Book Fair, Reading Takes You Places! Embracing their multi-culturally diverse school community, the Book Fair volunteer team planned activities, contests, events, and campaigns that featured educational opportunities galore about different cultures.
 
Hosp Elementary School does not believe in such a thing as too many decorations, and this Fair was no different! Featuring different scenes from some of the most famous classic stories, the decorations team and Junior Crew created trees and mushrooms for Alice in Wonderland, gargantuan-sized candy lands for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and an entire jungle scene for The Jungle Book. The entrance to their Book Fair was like walking through the books themselves!
 
But the decorations didn’t stop there. A door decorating contest brought up the friendly competitive spirit between the classes, and students voted on their favorite door by donating loose change. The teacher with the most money won $200 Scholastic Dollars, and overall they raised more than $500 for their All for Books campaign! The donations helped buy three new books for every single teacher, while also starting a classroom library for a new first-grade teacher.
 
By partnering with the school’s diversity chair, the Book Fair team made a special effort to show students the places they could not only go by reading, but also the places they all came from. More than 20 students participated in videoing book reviews, but this year to tie in with Multicultural Night, students who spoke languages other than English shared their booktalk in multiple languages. These were then looped on television during Book Fair and the books were featured as student picks at the Fair. Additionally, guest readers from at least 10 different countries stopped in at the Fair, read a book, and shared about their culture.
 
The Book Fair Preview, a Twisted Tea Party, was a big hit and had 100 percent participation at the Preview and for the Classroom Wish List. And the Lunch With a Loved One event meant students had extra special visitors all week!
 
It was a whirlwind of a week—or could one say a world-wind? Regardless, it was a blast and a huge success!

Rogers Elementary School 
Frisco, TX
Chairperson: Christy Larkin
Theme: Groovy Book Fair

Students and faculty at Rogers Elementary School were feeling good about their spring Book Fair. Not only did they increase sales by more than $1,000, they increased the excitement, the participation, and the overall love of reading!
 
Advertising to many audiences in a lot of different ways was a major factor. Teachers and students came together to produce promotional videos and songs for the Fair and All for Books campaign; signage plastered the walls, windows, and sidewalks;  students watched the Author Video; and the volunteer team shared Fair details all over the web. There were also skits performed by the school’s Safety Patrol and Student Council, and booktalks to boot!
 
Once students and families got word of all of the amazing activities, events, contests, and challenges planned, there was no stopping the Book Fair team from reaching the top! Decorations and props were out of this world, from a peace, love, and books van and a tie-dyed photo backdrop, to tons of smiley faces and peace signs, as well as a huge time travel display. The count down to the Book Fair display featured different decades, too.
 
Parents, grandparents, and loved ones hit the Fair during their Clean It and Green It event, as well as during Open House week, giving parents time to shop after attending the already-scheduled events. 
 
The principals and faculty all joined in the fun, hosting a positive protest and used-books donation drive, and attending the teacher preview where they completed their Classroom Wish Lists and played a guessing game.  The community got involved, too! Multiple guest readers visited the Fair, reading students’ favorite books, including the mayor, superintendent, fire and police officers, and more.
 
They all came together for the love of reading, raising $750 for their All for Books campaign, donating 800 used books to the local Boys & Girls Club, filling the classroom libraries

Calvin Bledsoe Elementary School 
Frisco, TX
Chairperson: Dawn Gray

The spring Book Fair at Calvin Bledsoe Elementary School was not just out of this world, it was all over it! With a focus on their Multicultural Night and diverse school community, the Feelin’ Groovy Book Fair included activities, events, and contests that celebrated its entire student body, their families, and the local community.
 
The Book Fair chairperson and volunteer team set ambitious goals to: bring their spring Fair up to the level of its fall Fair, increase student participation, sell more books, and increase sales online, too. They set out stealthily with a targeted action plan, beginning with recruiting more than 50 volunteers, including one volunteer solely dedicated to managing the decorations. Decked out in vibrant swirling colors, hearts, flowers, guitars, peace signs, polka dots, and a photo op hippie bus, the entrance to the Book Fair was alive with color.
 
Advertising was full of flower power with weekly articles in The Bledsoe Beat, flyers, posters, the PTA website and Facebook pages, the outdoor marquee, morning announcements, and banners, yard signs, and more. The librarian focused on booktalks, the Author Video, and the kick-off assembly, and to really get students and faculty into the groove, the volunteer team kicked off their morning news announcement with a “Shake Your Groove Thing” dance!
 
But the main advertising attraction was the Multicultural Book Commercial Contest, which served not only as a great motivator to get students to participate, but also as a unique advertisement tool and reward challenge. Here’s how it worked: Students were asked to read a book about another country, fiction or nonfiction, or a book set in a different country. Then, they were asked to create a commercial for that book using a computer or their smartphone. The class with the most number of commercials would win a visit from the Reading Dogs with the Read to Rover program, as well as 100 Scholastic Dollars to spend at the Fair for their classroom.
 
To save time and space, teachers were encouraged to create their Classroom Wish Lists online, and the Online Fair was advertised more than ever before. Families attended Tie-Dye Tuesday night and Multicultural Night, shopping the Fair before, during, and after each event.
 
Calvin Bledsoe Elementary School didn’t need to channel flower power, they channeled book power—and achieved great success—increasing their net sales by 13 percent, more than doubling their online sales, and selling more than 3,000 books!

The President’s Award for Exceptional Performance winners of 500 Scholastic Dollars are:

President’s Award for Exceptional Performance (Student Engagement): McGarity Elementary School 
Hiram, GA
Chairperson: Angie Dennis
Theme: Feelin’ Groovy 60s Book Fair

The Groovy 60s Book Fair was all the rage for the students at McGarity Elementary School! The Book Fair team did a far-out job of engaging students with multiple activities, challenges, events, and rewards. For the students, it all started with their student preview, where they not only got to peruse the hundreds of books, they visited the 60s museum, created by the Book Fair team. At the 60s museum, students learned about major historic milestones that took place during the decade, including JFK’s and Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassinations, the Vietnam War, racial tension, and the space race.
 
In addition, there was a 60s-style coloring contest and dress-up days, but it was the All for Books coin war between boys and girls that really drew all of the students into the Fair. To find out which gender was the grooviest, the Book Fair team placed containers in the media center and asked guys and gals to donate change to their favorite. The gender which collected the most would win Bookstock, a fun Friday event with food, music, and prizes. Each morning on the school news, administrators dressed up as Hippie Harry and Sixties Sally to persuade viewers why their gender was the best. Students visited the Fair constantly to see the progress, and all in all, they raised more than $885! The donations were used to purchase books from the Fair for classroom libraries, a much-needed gift since the school had made severe budget cuts.

President’s Award for Exceptional Performance (Family Event): Crestline Elementary School 
Hartselle, AL
Chairperson: Stephanie Roden

There’s a first time for everything, and for Crestline Elementary School’s Feeling Groovy Book Fair, their kick-off event was a first—and it was phenomenal!
 
As they started planning, they decided to hold a performance night the Monday night of Book Fair week, which would take lots of planning ahead of time. The Book Fair chairperson assigned each grade level a song from the 1960s and created dances to go with the songs, videoing them as tutorials so students could practice. The P.E. teacher then worked daily with the students for three weeks straight and on the night of the kick-off, students dressed in their best feeling groovy clothing and performed their dances for all of their loved ones.
 
In addition to a rockin’ good time, the event also allowed for extra time for parents to shop at the Book Fair, even offering a Grab and Go meal for purchase for families. This relieved the stress on families who might be concerned about leaving the Fair to have time to cook dinner.  so they would not feel rushed to leave to cook dinner
 
This Family Event brought in more students than any other academic event in Crestline Elementary School’s history and helped them increase their Book Fair sales by 25 percent!
 

President’s Award for Exceptional Performance (Decorations): St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic School 
Chicago, IL
Chairperson: Mary Beth Gerlach
Theme: Feelin’ Groovy Book Fair: Peace, Love, Books

Shoppers at the Feelin’ Groovy Book Fair at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic School were in for a ride! The entrance to the Book Fair, a gigantic hippie van, was adorned in flowers, rainbows, and of course, books! Stepping inside the Book Fair was like stepping back in time to a groovin’ disco, complete with silhouetted decades dancers, tie-dyed curtains draped along the ceiling, and smiley faces galore! Fun, colorful props added to the playful scene, such as a rainbow-colored guitar, characters from Scooby Doo, and an American flag peace sign. The floor display goal chart was a delightful recreation of a lava lamp, and a life-sized cutout of the principal dressed in bell bottoms served as a photo op in front of a wavy, right-on back drop. Paper tie-dyed T-shirts criss-crossed the ceiling of the front lobby, and a cardboard recreation of giant blocks spelling the word “READ” greeted visitors, sharing the school’s love of books. Even their All for Books campaign had a huge display, complete with wavy colors and tons of smiley faces. As nice as the smiley decorations were, it was the smiles on the faces of the students that made this Book Fair and its decoration a success! 

President’s Award for Exceptional Performance (All for Books™): Swarthmore Ruthledge School 
Swarthmore, PA
Chairperson: Anne Thomas/Lisa Kauffman
Theme: Groovy Spring Book Fair

Facing a historical decline in participation for the All for Books campaign, the Book Fair chairperson at Swarthmore Ruthledge School knew she had to reawaken interest in her school community. To shake things up, she enlisted the help of the principal, who agreed to dress up in 1960s clothes if 100 percent of the school participated in the All for Books campaign.
 
Secondly, they partnered with the non-profit organization, Cradles to Crayons, to be the recipient of books purchased from the Book Fair with donations collected from All for Books. This offered students, families, and faculty a charitable giving opportunity, as well as motivated them to give more! Fifty percent of donations purchased books for classroom libraries at Swarthmore Ruthledge School and the other half purchased books from the Fair for kids in need through Cradles to Crayons.
 
In total, they accumulated more than $1,700 in donations for All for Books and had 100 percent participation, which meant the principal decked herself out in groovy clothes from the decade!
 

President’s Award for Exceptional Performance (Advertising): Prairie View Elementary School
Enid, OK
Chairperson: Tammy Duncan
Theme: Feelin' Groovy Book Fair

Prairie View Elementary School made sure to spread the love of books by spreading the word, and increased sales by 25 percent in the process! But before getting down at their Feelin’ Groovy Book Fair, they had to devise a plan to get the word out. And that they did with tie-dyed colors and all!
 
The volunteer team and Book Fair chairperson began by building anticipation and camaraderie with a window decorating contest between the grade levels. Not only did it get the whole school involved, it provided decorations that included details about the Fair, doubling as advertising. Teachers also received a flyer and heard about the Fair at faculty meetings, while receiving daily book hooks sent to their email inbox.
 
The Book Fair team also utilized social media outlets, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as the school website, outdoor marquee, morning announcements, and newsletters.
 

President’s Award for Exceptional Performance (What Would You Do for Reading?®): Everton R-III Schools 
Everton, MO
Chairperson: Melody F. Drawbond
Theme: Feelin' Groovy Book Fair

The Book Fair chairperson at Everton R-III Schools took the Feelin’ Groovy Book Fair theme and ideas and ran straight back in time! She set goals, planned events and activities, hosted a Teacher Preview, held raffles and an All for Books campaign, and more. But it was the What Would You Do for Reading? challenge that really blew the knee-high socks off the school. As a reward for accumulating 500 Accelerated Reading points, the principal and superintendent would dress and perform as 1960s singing sensations Sonny and Cher! But wait, there’s more! If the students earned 1,000 Accelerated Reading points, the superintendent would shave his head! Students were voracious readers, and though they did not meet the 1,000 point goal, they did surpass the first one. In a special school assembly, the students were serenaded by “Sonny and Cher” to the tune of “I Got You, Babe.” In the end, the administrators at Everton R-III Schools were literally singing for joy about their students’ reading success and their more than 50 percent increase in sales! 
 

President’s Award for Exceptional Performance (Grand Event): Territorial Elementary School 
Junction City, OR
Chairperson: Wendy Thelander

Territorial Elementary School had grand plans for their Book Fair! Each year, they plan their spring Book Fair to coincide with Grandparents Day, an event put on by dedicated volunteers. Grandparents are invited to the school for tea and Book Fair shopping. To allow Grands with multiple students at the school, they offer three separate times throughout the day, divided by grade. During the event, Grands and their students enjoyed music, songs, and dance numbers coordinated by the school’s music teacher, as well as performances by the school’s cheer squad. Students then cheerfully escorted their Grands around campus, to their classrooms, and most importantly, to the Book Fair! Even though this event happens every year, sales still increased by 35 percent—a true testament to the grand power of Grands!
 

President’s Award for Exceptional Performance (Theme): Ethridge Elementary School 
Ethridge, TN
Chairperson: Joan Childress
Theme: Feeling Groovy

The Book Fair at Ethridge Elementary School was a display of the 1960s that incorporated its Feeling Groovy theme everywhere it possibly could! The team began planning out the details by breaking the theme into three instructional areas—history, music, and the art of the sixties. The school’s curriculum, Book Fair activities and contests, and the Family Events all centered around these three aspects of that groovy time period.
 
For Groovy History, students learned about Martin Luther King Jr., the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the first moon walk, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War. They practice their hippie slang and ate food from the era, such as Easy-Cheez and Spaghetti-os.
 
For the Groovy Music, rockin’ tunes filled the school’s halls, while students got down to learning about pop culture icons at that time, like the Beatles. The Family Event included a reading of Puff the Magic Dragon by the principal, as well as dancing The Twist and classic cars from the Classic Car Club of Lawrence County.
 
And finally, for the Groovy Art, students channeled their inner-Andy Warhol, recreating pop art and photographs. They also built model cars and tie-dyed T-shirts, using their final masterpieces as decorations for the Fair.
 
The students and faculty traveled back in time, making this Book Fair one of their best yet and increasing sales by 5 percent!