Various members of the guest readers included State School Superintendent John Barge, Bartow County School Superintendent John Harper, Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor, Bartow County Administrator Pete Olson, Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini, Cass High Principal Michael Nelson and Terri Cox of the Grand Theatre.
Principal Evie Barge developed the idea, along with help from her leadership staff.
“I challenged the homerooms that whoever got the biggest celebrity to come read to their class would win a prize. We are very pleased with the wide variety of readers who have attended today. However, we have had such a turnout, I don’t know how I will choose the biggest celebrity.
“We teach reading, we break it down but I want to instill a love of reading. These are all adults here today who do love to read. I want the children to see that it is awesome to read, plus most of the people here are pretty successful so they are seeing that reading can pay off.”
Barge attended a conference where she was urged to inspire students to not only read because it is required but to help them develop an affection for it.
“Children’s lack of love for reading is epidemic. We really wanted to do something to turn that trend,” she said.
The event kicked off a yearlong reading program with teachers and students collaborating to set individualized goals. Due to the fact that some students naturally read more than others, Barge thought it was appropriate to set goals specific to each student. Posters will hang in each class and list the student’s goal and chart the progress made throughout the year.
After lunch, the entire school participated in a parade through the halls, ending with a pep rally outside with South Central Middle School cheerleaders.
Barge said, “Some classes picked their favorite book and made a flag to depict the book. Each grade level has a banner about why they love reading and all the kids signed it so we are going to march through the school and end up outside. The South Central Middle School cheerleaders will lead our pep rally. They developed two reading cheers and two reading songs just for our program today.”
Bartow County School Board member Anna Sullivan read “I Pledge Allegiance” to Lauran Tatum’s first-grade class.
“I just love doing this,” Sullivan said. “I think it is really important for the kids in our school to see there are adults who like to read. It is wonderful that people from all over the community have taken their time to come and read to the students.
“I love how engaged they were. Also, the fact that you never know what types of responses you will get makes it fun.”
As in other Bartow County schools, the 1:1 conversion has positively impacted Cloverleaf’s learning environment.
“The third- through fifth-grade students will have the opportunity to access books from home now since they received laptops. We believe this will continue to encourage reading,” Barge said. “The introduction of laptops into our school has brought amazing results. Last year, we had a 30 percent reduction in discipline problems and we only had two computers damaged when a little girl got sick in class.”