Assistant to the Superintendent Bill Clifton, Lee Kinstle’s Eric McCracken, Rachel Hoverman of the Extension Office, Kelly Houg of the YWCA, and Officer Greg Blackmore read aloud to Van Wert Middle School students Friday morning as part of the One Book One Day event. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Assistant to the Superintendent Bill Clifton, Lee Kinstle’s Eric McCracken, Rachel Hoverman of the Extension Office, Kelly Houg of the YWCA, and Officer Greg Blackmore read aloud to Van Wert Middle School students Friday morning as part of the One Book One Day event. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – On Friday, all of the students at Van Wert Middle School participated in the One Book One Day project where they joined together to read “All of the Above” by Shelley Pearsall.

The day kicked off with several members of the community introducing themselves and speaking on why they feel reading is important. They then read aloud to the students.

In an early morning assembly held in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, Ben Laudick said that the students will finish all 237 pages together by the time the students leave for the day. He reminded the students that they read each and every day whether they realize it or not.

“Some of you read right before you went to your homeroom this morning,” said Laudick. “You read a text message or something on your phone. Reading is important.”

Assistant to the Superintendent Bill Clifton, Lee Kinstle’s Eric McCracken, Rachel Hoverman of the Extension Office, Kelly Houg of the YWCA, and Officer Greg Blackmore all spoke to the crowd prior to reading passages from the book Friday morning.

“When I was your age I didn’t value reading,” said Clifton to the middle schoolers. “I didn’t understand the importance of reading. But as I grew older, and I as I look back now, I can tell you that I agree 100 percent with Mr. Laudick – you are reading every day whether it’s a book, whether it’s a magazine, whether it’s off of your cell phone device, whether it’s off of your computer.”

Clifton continued by stating that it’s not only important that the students read, but that they interpret and comprehend what they are reading.

McCracken gave an anecdote about one of his sons who needed help with his reading skills. McCracken said after his son received help to get him at the level of reading he needed to be at, his math and science scores also increased.

“It was really obvious that if you can’t read, or you don’t like to read, or probably in his case he just didn’t want to read and understand it, other things are hard too,” said McCracken.

Hoverman encouraged the students to find a book that they love and that makes them love reading. She noted that there is a book out there for everyone.

“I guarantee that there is a book that has already been written for every single kid in this room,” said Hoverman.

Houg said that her favorite part of reading is hearing someone’s story.

“Reading, for me, offers me the same opportunity that my job does, because it allows you to hear a story about something you may or may not have ever been exposed to,” said Houg.

Blackmore echoed Houg and explained that reading gives people an opportunity to learn about places, events, and situations they may not have known about.

“One of the things I love most about reading is the knowledge you can gain about anything that you want to know about,” said Blackmore. “You can’t travel there, but you can be there in a book.”

The students heard from author Pearsall through a video message. Pearsall explained that the book was inspired by true events and takes place in a school in Cleveland where students try to break a Guinness World Record for the largest tetrahedron.

Throughout the day on Friday, students read the book, completed additives based on the book including building their own tetrahedron, and even had lunch inspired by Willy Q’s Barbecue – a setting in the book.

Van Wert Middle School students and staff are reading “All of the Above” in preparation for author Shelley Pearsall’s visit to the building on March 5. Each student got their very own copy of the book, and they will have an opportunity for Pearsall to sign the book when she comes.

“Reading, to me, is one of the most important things that I could ever do in my life,” said Middle School Principal Mark Bagley. “I’ll read a book over spring break; I’ll read three books on the beach in July.”