South Charlotte

Celebrities will be reading role models

McKee Road Elementary School is rolling out the red carpet on Dec. 16 to welcome Charlotte notables to the first annual Celebrity Read-In Day.

Celebrity Read-In Day is the brainchild of principal Beverly Newsome, who also hosted the event at her previous Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools assignment at Druid Hills Academy.

"We're very excited to welcome our guests to McKee Road Elementary School, home of the All-Stars," she said. "It's a great experience for a child to realize the people from all walks of life enjoy reading."

Newsome, McKee Road Literacy Facilitator Staci White and the teachers' Literacy and Social Studies Committee are working to bring a variety of readers to McKee Road, including newly re-elected Mayor Anthony Foxx.

Mayor Foxx will be reading to Mrs. O'Regan's kindergarten class and remarked, "Reading is the single most important skill necessary for a happy, productive and successful life. I love learning more about the world and people around me from books, magazines, newspapers, etc. Reading is fundamental."

Upon arriving at McKee Road and walking down the red carpet, celebrities will be greeted by fifth-grade ambassadors, who were selected by their teachers for showing All-Star character. They will escort the celebrities to the individual classrooms, where the readers may be surprised to discover all the students will be wearing their most comfy pajamas.

"During Celebrity Read-In Day, we want to promote a love of reading and there is nothing better than getting cozy, under a blanket with a great book," said Newsome. "That's why all of us, including teachers, will be in our pajamas that day."

White added, "We want kids to love to read for the enjoyment of reading. We also want them to see the people around them reading. Outside and inside the school there are people who love reading."

In addition to Mayor Foxx, the school will host school administrators including, Dr. Kelly Gwaltney, the CMS East Zone superintendent, and CMS school board members Tim Morgan, Eric Davis and Tom Tate.

Expected media personalities include Ira Cronin (WCNC-TV), Bob Child (News 14 Carolina), Jamey Bowers (WSOC-TV) and Boomer (107.9 the Link) as well as the Charlotte Observer's Reading Life editor, Pam Kelley. (She will read "The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree" by Gloria Houston).

Also slated to read are staff from Earnhardt Racing and NASCAR as well as a local policeman, firefighter and Mr. Smiley, the school's head custodian, to name just a few. Readers can bring their favorite book or pick from a selection. The books will come with discussion questions.

Newsome plans to read the Sid Hoff classic, "Danny the Dinosaur."

"'Danny the Dinosaur' was the first book I was able to read on my own, and I was in the fourth grade," she said. "Before that, I got through my school work by memorizing, but my fourth-grade teacher made sure I became a reader. That's why I went into education, to pay that help forward."

Throughout the day, students will be exposed to reading assignments, even if they are in P.E. or music. Teachers can turn on the closed-circuit WMKE TV station to watch a loop of all the staff reading their favorite stories.

Students also will write new endings to familiar stories, create bookmarks, read creatively (like in the dark with flashlights) and have interactive discussions about the books they are reading.

"We want to build in students a love for reading," said Newsome. "Celebrity Read-In Day will show them how much fun reading can be."