Sacred Heart students give the gift of reading


By Hope Lecchi - [email protected]



Sacred Heart kindergartners Ryan Wilson, left, Miles Hostettler and Lane McCollester look at the books written about them by juniors in Susie Thompson’s composition class Wednesday morning while volunteer Louise Rochka looks on. The students were eager to share their books after the composition students gave them to their kindergarten book buddies.


Everett Dick holds his biography, “The Amazing Everett,” while the author of the story, Ty Wissman, reads the book aloud. Wissman said when he was an elementary student an older student wrote a book about him and he wanted to give that experience to Dick.


Carolina Rivera-Montoya opens the gift of her biography early Wednesday morning. The kindergarten students were each given personalized books written by juniors from Susie Thompson’s composition class. Thompson’s students were working on a creative writing project for her class while the kindergarten students in Jeanine Dove’s class were learning to read and how to write thank you notes.


John Oh reads to Ava Judd shortly after presenting her with the gift of her autobiography. After reading to their kindergarten book buddies, the students went to the cafeteria and where they had a snack. Although the juniors gave the students the gift of a book, the true gift, according to composition teacher Susie Thompson, is the opportunity the students at Sacred Heart have to develop relationships and the lessons they learn about the importance of giving back to others.


By Hope Lecchi

[email protected]

Sacred Heart kindergartners Ryan Wilson, left, Miles Hostettler and Lane McCollester look at the books written about them by juniors in Susie Thompson’s composition class Wednesday morning while volunteer Louise Rochka looks on. The students were eager to share their books after the composition students gave them to their kindergarten book buddies.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_tsd012816shsreading1-1.jpgSacred Heart kindergartners Ryan Wilson, left, Miles Hostettler and Lane McCollester look at the books written about them by juniors in Susie Thompson’s composition class Wednesday morning while volunteer Louise Rochka looks on. The students were eager to share their books after the composition students gave them to their kindergarten book buddies.

Everett Dick holds his biography, “The Amazing Everett,” while the author of the story, Ty Wissman, reads the book aloud. Wissman said when he was an elementary student an older student wrote a book about him and he wanted to give that experience to Dick.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_tsd012816shsreading2-1.jpgEverett Dick holds his biography, “The Amazing Everett,” while the author of the story, Ty Wissman, reads the book aloud. Wissman said when he was an elementary student an older student wrote a book about him and he wanted to give that experience to Dick.

Carolina Rivera-Montoya opens the gift of her biography early Wednesday morning. The kindergarten students were each given personalized books written by juniors from Susie Thompson’s composition class. Thompson’s students were working on a creative writing project for her class while the kindergarten students in Jeanine Dove’s class were learning to read and how to write thank you notes.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_tsd012816shsreading3-1.jpgCarolina Rivera-Montoya opens the gift of her biography early Wednesday morning. The kindergarten students were each given personalized books written by juniors from Susie Thompson’s composition class. Thompson’s students were working on a creative writing project for her class while the kindergarten students in Jeanine Dove’s class were learning to read and how to write thank you notes.

John Oh reads to Ava Judd shortly after presenting her with the gift of her autobiography. After reading to their kindergarten book buddies, the students went to the cafeteria and where they had a snack. Although the juniors gave the students the gift of a book, the true gift, according to composition teacher Susie Thompson, is the opportunity the students at Sacred Heart have to develop relationships and the lessons they learn about the importance of giving back to others.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_tsd012816shsreading4-1.jpgJohn Oh reads to Ava Judd shortly after presenting her with the gift of her autobiography. After reading to their kindergarten book buddies, the students went to the cafeteria and where they had a snack. Although the juniors gave the students the gift of a book, the true gift, according to composition teacher Susie Thompson, is the opportunity the students at Sacred Heart have to develop relationships and the lessons they learn about the importance of giving back to others.

A good biography can capture the reader’s attention because it is filled with interesting facts and a compelling story.

They are written because the author has found a person of interest and wants others to have the opportunity to learn more about the subject.

Imagine if you are in kindergarten and are reading a biography for the first time, only to discover the author wrote their work about you.

That plot line played itself out Wednesday in Jeanine Dove’s kindergarten classroom at Sacred Heart School as her students were given the gift of a book: a biography of their life.

“We are so fortunate because the juniors in Susie Thompson’s comp class wrote a biography for each of my students,” Dove said. “Each story is completely different and my students are the heroes of their book.

“My heart melted as I watched my students point to their name when their book buddies read the stories to them for the first time,” she added. “Today has just been a very special day for all of us,”

The students in Thompson’s’s class spent a month on the project from the first interview to the professional publication of the book.

“Even though it is a composition class, I wanted to do a unit on creative writing with the students,” Thompson said. “We talk about the interview process and how to ask open-ended questions.

“I told them that the book that they wrote had to be special and personalized and that the kindergarten student they were paired with had to be the hero of the book.”

The juniors spent part of a class period interviewing their book buddy before starting the writing process.

Not only did Thompson’s students have to write the book but they also had to choose a way to illustrate their works as well.

“When I first was given the assignment I thought how am I going to do this because I it seemed hard to find illustrations and artwork I could use,” Ty Wissman said. “I worked on it about three weeks and I wanted to make sure that there were no mistakes in the book; I wanted it to be special for him.”

Wissman was paired with Everett Dick.

“When Everett told me he wanted to be a truck driver and that red was his favorite color, I had my idea,” Wissman said. “Everett said he really likes it and wants me to write another book for him.”

Wissman said when he was in grade school an older student wrote a book for him.

“I remember when I was in school and I got my book, I wanted Everett to have the same experience,” Wissman added. “I honestly enjoyed doing this and spending time with Everett.”

Thompson commented on the quality of her students’ work and the effort they put into the books, but she considers another lesson her students received from the assignment to be more important.

“One of the blessings of a small school like Sacred Heart is that our students can forge relationships and give back to others,” Thompson said. “Our older students become role models for the younger ones.

“One of the things we do here is focus on the importance of giving back; I think my students were given a greater gift than the little ones did with their books,” she added. “This really has been one of the highlights of the year for me.”

After the composition students read the books to their buddies, the kindergartners had the chance to share their stories with each other before both classes headed to the cafeteria to share a snack.

“I just want you all to know how much we appreciate the books,” Dove told the students. “You have shared your love of reading and writing with my students and we appreciate that a great deal.

“My class is just learning how to write complete sentences and so very soon you will each get a thank you card from your buddy to let you know what this has meant.”

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext 1484

Sedalia Democrat

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext 1484

comments powered by Disqus