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Students celebrate "I Love to Read" month

FULDA -- February is the month of love, and students at Fulda Elementary School expressed their love this month -- for reading.

Elementary students across the U.S. devoted extra time to reading in celebration of national "I Love to Read" month.

The celebration is a much anticipated event for the 157 students in grades kindergarten through sixth-grade at Fulda Elementary. This year's theme was "Get Hooked on Reading - The Great Pirate Reading Challenge."

The goal for the month is to motivate students to read both in and out of school. At the start of the month each classroom set goals for the students and logged the amount of time they read on treasure maps.

"It's all about really getting the kids to read more," said Jeanette Sleeper, a kindergarten teacher at Fulda Elementary. "We really push more reading at home, and we reward reading with various prizes."

Educators used a variety of incentives, such as treasure chest prizes, costumes and medallions, to teach students just how fun reading can be.

"I've had parents thank me," Sleeper added. "They say thanks to the extra emphasis on reading this month their kids are going home and reading and actually enjoying it."

Students were rewarded with a school-wide celebration, Dress and Talk like a Pirate Day, on Friday afternoon. Activities ranged from bowling with the pirates to a peg-leg race and reading with the Fulda High School girls basketball players.

"The most important thing is to emphasize reading," said Gregg Slaathaug, dean of students at Fulda Elementary School. "You can't do any other subject well without reading. Reading is the foundation for success in all of your classes."

Slaathaug has noticed an increase in student motivation to read, and he hopes their eagerness will continue long after the celebrations are over.

"We've had great enthusiasm with students this month," he added. "We emphasize reading throughout the whole year, but this month we really try to motivate students to read more. Our staff and reading committee put in a lot of effort in putting together activities that promotes reading, and we hope the students' enthusiasm for reading will just continue after this month is over."