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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Gibbs Elementary!

For two years now, I have participated in a program called Community Nights. Last year, I visited River Terrace Elementary, in NE Washington, DC. And this year I visited Gibbs Elementary, also in NE Washington, DC.

The Community Nights program is run by the literacy organization Turning The Page, and it brings authors into partner schools for author visits with kids and parents. Turning The Page also provides the students who participate with signed copies of the authors' books. So the kids get wonderful momentos of their evenings with the authors.

And so do the authors, as you can see here (scroll down to see more). I received paintings from the first grader "superstars" in Ms. Chu's class. Using watercolors, the students created their favorite scenes from my book, NINETY-THREE IN MY FAMILY. Tyesha captured the family car, packed to the brim with animals and people. And Raven represented the disbelieving teacher. Thanks so much! Great job, everyone!

I also received a lovely illustrated card from the kids at the end of the evening. As you can see, Laura, Jamal and James worked on it. And Mayah, and Imani and LOTS of other kids. Thank you, everyone!

It makes me more than a little sad to note that Gibbs Elementary is one of the schools that will be closed at the end of this year. The DC government is closing many schools, alleging that they are underperforming or underenrolled. Although I was only at Gibbs for one evening, I saw a school where the president and VP of the PTA were still at the school at 8 pm, where many generations of families came to participate in a community event, and where the classrooms were wallpapered with the work of eager kids and dedicated teachers. One of those teachers (not Ms. Chu, who unfortunately had a prior commitment) sat through my reading with her students clustered around her, some even sitting on her lap. In other words, exactly what you'd want to see in a school.

I'm not saying that the closing of this school is part of some big sinister plan exactly. I'm just saying it is a real shame that Gibbs will be closing. I would have really enjoyed going back to visit my new friends there.

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