Center Gift of Reading night draws huge crowd

Courtesy photo Members of the St. Francis Jerome Church dance group perform the ribbon dance, Old Man dance and Mexican Hat dance.

CENTER— Haskin Elementary’s Gift of Reading night and present giveaway December 19 in Center was a huge success, with the cafeteria crowded to overflowing with parents and students who came for the chance to win prizes and receive free books from their teachers.

Students posed for Christmas photos with the Grinch.

The reading night was Center Schools’ Christmas gift to elementary and middle school students. About half the money for the event came from the school’s budget and the other half from private donors. Some 320 books were given away, one to each elementary student, whether they attended the reading night or not. The present giveaway is a gift drawing that this year distributed 32 gifts to Haskin Elementary students.

Each basket gift included a book, and the items in the basket were themed around the book.

Former students and adults wearing colorful costumes performed traditional Hispanic holiday dance routines, including El Baile de las Cintas (The Ribbon Dance), the Dance of the Old Men, representing the circle of life and the Mexican Hat Dance.

The dancers are part of a group from St. Francis Jerome Church in Center that keeps traditional Hispanic culture alive. Dance classes are offered to local students beginning in junior high school.

Teachers and school paraprofessionals helped serve Christmas treats. Following the snacks and performances, teachers led students to classrooms for the Christmas book reading.

In the kindergarten classroom, Eva the mini-horse size Newfoundland sat with is owner, Joy Werner, while she read a Marley Christmas book to children. Werner is the director for Center School’s Academic Recovery Center. Teachers and other volunteers in the different elementary classrooms also read Christmas classics aloud for students.

Center Schools Superintendent Carrie Zimmerman and former administrator/interim superintendent Lori Cooper also read books to children.

Students read their new books until Santa Claus came over the intercom inviting them back to the cafeteria for prizes and the new bikes giveaway. Seven bicycles were donated by private individuals and First Southwest Bank in Center.

Names were then drawn for the winners of the baskets, huge teddy bears and new bicycles. The expressions of the children winning the bicycles varied from stunned, ecstatic and super-happy to tearful and overwhelmed.

The Grinch teased the students winning prizes making them work to retrieve them. Baskets containing the gifts varied from assorted toys and stuffed animals to food baskets featuring snacks and “movies at home’ night treats.

Children happily carted off their prizes, large or small, and the Grinch was finally on good behavior as the reading event ended.


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