Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Home News
Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009 | 8:11 p.m.
Third grader Faith Teagarden didn't realize she would be a star for a day today.
But when she was escorted to a limousine for a ride from Elise L. Wolff Elementary to Barnes & Noble, she wasn't embarrassed either. Instead, she showed off her best 1980s "Walk Like an Egyptian" dance moves before hopping into the limo.
She was joined by fifth grader JamiLynn Merolle and first grader Keegan Tharp as the top readers in the school. The three read for up to 140 hours in the first trimester. As a prize, they were taken to the bookstore by limo, where they were given $25 gift cards from the school to spend on books, and $6 Starbucks cards as a gift from Barnes & Noble.
"I always have the decaf," JamiLynn said with a quick laugh.
The awards were part of the school's way to encourage reading for the city's APPLE Core program, which offers schools incentives for the amounts their children read — including a computer lab for the top school.
Principal Deborah Harbin and Assistant Principal Nina Lawson's apple costumes, complete with a "Reading Rocks" sash, kicked off the event at the beginning of the year as the two came on stage literally dancing, Harbin said.
Harbin wore the costume again today as she congratulated the students and joined them for the limo ride.
Teacher Linda Mullen, who took over the APPLE Core program at Wolff this year, decided she had no choice but to make the program big at the school, she said.
"I only do things in a big way," she said.
The students were pleased. Not knowing what would be the prize for winning, the three said what they got was much better than what they imagined.
The students received a tour of the bookstore when they arrived, and each was able to purchase at least two items. The choices included night lights, "Flat Stanley," "The Giver" and a set of doll tees by American Girl.
Faith also wanted to purchase a monkey bookmark for her sister, she said, but, "It was out of my budget."
Getting the books was a highlight for Keegan, he said. He was on track break, but came back to the school for the celebration.
JamiLynn said listening to friends scream her name was her favorite moment.
Faith, fully embracing the moment, said listening to her fans — that is her friends, she said — scream while she "walked the school's red carpet" could not be beat. There wasn't an actual red carpet, but there was no doubt the three winners felt like one had been rolled out in front of them.
This is the first year Wolff staff have tried to go quite so big for their APPLE Core celebration, Harbin said, and it seems to have paid off. The number of bookmarks students are turning in, each marking 20 hours read, has surpassed previous years, she said.
"It has made such a difference," she said.
The limo was donated by a Wolff parent, Mullen said, and funds for the $25 gift cards, as well as $5 gift cards given to eight honorable mentions, were paid for by the school.