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Visiting Hamster Brings Book to Life For Weems Students

Weems Elementary Promotes Literacy Through "One School, One Book" program.

Weems Elementary School students are expanding their love for reading and their imaginations with the help of a friend brought to life from the pages of a beloved storybook.

Teachers, staff, students and their families are together reading  “School Days According to Humphrey,” a book about a very special hamster as part of the "One School, One Book," reading challenge, said Almeta Radford, public relations specialist for Manassas City Schools.

“One School, One Book” encourages schools to choose a chapter book and distribute a copy to every family in the school.  Families then commit to finishing the book together with their entire school community, she added.

After meeting "School Days According to Humphrey" author Betty Birney via video during a school program, the students got to meet the star himself.

“Humphrey is a hamster who is staying with us here at Weems, just as he does in the story, and visiting our classrooms and children each day” said Weems reading specialist Amanda Wagner. “From his cage, he witnesses many events and brilliant children at work and “writes” about them in his journal.”

During their reading journey, students will compose their own writings of what Humphrey has witnessed each day and the writings will be published into a personalized book for the school entitled, “Weems According to Humphrey," Wagner said.

“Humphrey will not only be visiting us in classrooms throughout the day, but in order to meet all of our community, he will attend all of our community night events as well," Wagner said.

The school hosted its first evening event on Nov. 1. According to Weems Elementary staff, more than 130 students and their families participated.

Students snacked on popcorn and read along while members of the Manassas City School Board read chapter 4 of the book aloud, Radford said. 

After the reading, students were tasked with reading clues throughout the room and used their books to identify which classroom Humphrey would be in based on what was described in the clue. 

It was wonderful to see the students and families were dedicated to solving the mystery, but nothing could have topped their excitement in meeting Humphrey himself, Wagner said.

News of Humphrey's visit to Weems has spread far and wide; attracting the attention of some of the city's most notable people.

On Monday at 6:30 p.m., Manassas Mayor Harry J. Parrish will visit the school and read to the students.

 Dr. Catherine Magouyrk, Superintendent of Schools, will serve as a guest reader on Nov.20 at 6:30 p.m.  Each visit will also include children’s engineering projects and cooperative writing activities.

Wagner said she is excited about what the program is doing for students. 

“We are thoroughly enjoying and looking forward to continuing this exciting journey of uniting our school and community through our love of a good book and an adorable hamster named Humphrey," Wagner said.

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Al. Radford November 10, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Way to go, Weems! Thanks, Patch!
Tim Demeria November 11, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Great things happening in Manassas City Schools! Thanks for letting the school board read to the kids, it's always great going home to Weems.
Anthony November 12, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Great job over at Weems Elementary congrats for the "School days according to Humphrey" and passing AMO

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