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  • Last modified 119 days ago (Jan. 24, 2019)

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Live owl featured at school program

Staff writer

Marion elementary’s One School, One Book initiative focused on a story about an adventurous mouse, but Friday was all about owls, from their talons to their pellets.

The program, funded by the Parents Advisory Council, wrapped up after two weeks of reading the book Poppy by Avi.

Librarian Lori Kirkpatrick made the activities owl-themed because the book’s antagonist, Mr. Ocax, was an owl.

The conflict between the owl and the main character was a good part of the story because the classes didn’t know why it happened, third-grader Reese Oursler said.

“I liked when Poppy was trying to figure out why Mr. Ocax didn’t want them to go to the house,” he said. “It was a mystery.”

Among the highlights on Friday was a captive owl brought in by Emily Davis from the Great Plains Nature Preserve in Wichita.

In addition to seeing an owl and learning about its attributes, each grade also got to dissect a pellet in their classroom.

“That’s why we ordered pellets, to see what we could find,” she said. “It came from the story and we wanted to tie that in.”

Having everyone read the same story leads to interactivity between older and younger students, Oursler said.

“You read the same chapter every day,” he said. “Everybody knows what’s going on in the book.”

Kirkpatrick added incentive to the learning process by awarding quiz prizes following daily assemblies. She also made the story’s details relatable, like when she brought in a salt lick.

“We farm, so I brought in a huge salt lick for the kids to see,” she said. “They couldn’t believe it weighed 50 pounds and there was nothing in there but salt.”

Several important themes were touched on, like bullying, the predator-prey relationship, and death, Kirkpatrick said.

“I don’t know that we dwell on it a long time, but we’d say that’s really sad,” she said. “Think about Cinderella, think about fairy tales and all the movies these kids watch. They’ve seen a lot worse.”

Last year the classes read Nim’s Island, but third-grader Brylee Smith preferred this year’s book because it had more humor, she said.

“It was funnier with the porcupine,” she said.

Choosing a book from a series has an immediate effect, getting teachers and students alike interested in the sequels, Kirkpatrick said.

“The older kids who can read independently, it spurs them to want to read the next one,” she said. “But I don’t always choose a series.”

With a book in mind for next year already, Kirkpatrick begins planning several months early, but she doesn’t let anyone know the book until the time comes.

“They’re excited, as soon as I announce it,” she said. “I never let them know what we’re doing until the day we start.”

Last modified Jan. 24, 2019

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