Sandhills students "visit" Grand Canyon

HALSEY - - The students at Sandhills Elementary School participated in the “One School, One Book” program during the month of January, reading the book "Brighty of the Grand Canyon" by Marguerite Henry. Consolidated Telephone Company donated the money so that each family represented by students at the school could have a copy of this book to read at home according to a prearranged reading schedule. During the reading, the students learned that the main character, Brighty, was a real donkey that lived many, many years ago at the Grand Canyon. He had blazed an important trail from the North Rim to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. He had also known Theodore Roosevelt, had helped dedicate the first suspension bridge over the Grand Canyon, and had helped solve the murder of a local prospector. Quite a list of accomplishments for one small burro! February 8, after the book had been completed, the students and teachers celebrated, using Brighty as the theme for the annual Read In. The students decorated the gym using long strips of black paper to create silhouette images representing the Grand Canyon. Each of the teachers set up a station in her/his room devoted to a topic from the book. The students were divided into multigrade “families” to visit these stations over the course of the day. Mr. Deines, the P.E. teacher, and Mrs. Simonson, 4th grade, set up an obstacle course in the gym. The students raced through obstacles representing boulders, cacti, and other hazards, as well as poking their heads through a “waterfall” and climbing onto the “North Rim” as the donkey, Brighty, did in the book. Mrs. Johnston, 6th grade, led the students through an activity in which they constructed several different types of rocks. Mrs. Saner, 1st grade, and Mrs. Jensen, 3rd grade, helped the students make rock pets with a variety of art supplies. Mr. Harvey, 5th grade, focused on Teddy Roosevelt, sharing the story of why the teddy bear was named after him. The students then designed their own teddy bears. Mr. Ganoung, the music teacher, explained to the students why sourdough was a favorite ingredient for the prospectors and fur trappers of Brighty’s era. Then the students helped make sourdough flapjacks and ate them the “Brighty” way, with sugar instead of syrup. Each group saved one flapjack to run a special race at the end of the session. Mrs. Teahon, 2nd grade, explained some of the benefits of the suspension bridge that Brighty had helped to dedicate. Then the students tried out their own engineering skills by building bridges with marshmallows and toothpicks. Some of the resulting bridges were strong enough to hold three or four rocks! At the end of the day, numerous prizes were awarded, including the most creative pet rock and teddy bear designed during the day, the fastest time through the obstacle course, the fastest time through the flapjack race, and the strongest marshmallow bridges. Prizes were also awarded to the trivia contest winners who had answered correctly the most questions related to the Brighty book while it was being read during the month of January. Mid Nebraska Reading Council helps sponsor the Sandhills Elemetary’s “One School, One Book” program. The Sandhills elementary teachers will be doing a presentation highlighting this program and their annual Read In at the Nebraska State Reading Conference later this month.*The above article was submitted by Kristin Ganoung, kindergarten teacher at Sandhills Elementary School.