Students spotlight favorite books |

Students spotlight favorite books

Douglas County Superintendent of Schools kneels to talk to a student at the Meneley Literacy Fair.

Fifth grade teacher Sherrie Higgins’ passion for books has her constantly searching for innovative ways to engage students and foster a love of reading. Three years ago, she spearheaded an effort to bring a school wide Literacy Fair to Meneley Elementary. Since that time, hundreds of students have explored and shared their favorite books through the creation of literacy boards that creatively highlight their chosen texts.

Students in kindergarten through grade 5 are invited to participate either individually, as a family project, or whole class. After selecting and reading a book, students craft either a fiction or non-fiction board that details critical book/genre elements such as main plot and conflict resolution or a summary of facts learned.

Meneley fifth grade teacher Julie Michel said, “The best part of the Literacy Fair is everyone has a favorite book to share.”

With more than 250 students participating, this year’s fair was a grand success. Seventeen community members volunteered to interview participants on the day of the fair, which provided students an opportunity to promote their work and practice presentation skills.

I’ve volunteered as a literacy fair interviewer several times. What a joy to interact with the children and see the incredible amount of effort, enthusiasm, and imagination they dedicate to their boards. Any nervousness about being interviewed typically subsides once the student settles in to sharing what they love so much about their chosen book.

The day of the literacy fair, animated student voices lifted above the sea of boards running the length of the common area. The excitement was palpable.

Students and their families were invited to return to the school that night to peruse all the boards and see the first, second, and third place winners in each grade level and category. Every entry received recognition for participating in the fair.

Higgins continues to be inspired by the success of each fair and the talent of the students. “It is my favorite day of the year, children spreading their love of literacy,” she said.

Massive crow migration

Did anyone else happen to look skyward a little after 7 a.m. this past Tuesday?

Hundreds and hundreds of birds filled the air as they made their way south, forming a thick band against the backdrop of pink sunrise sky.

They flew too high to determine what they were but once I opened the door, I heard the unmistakable and guttural “caw caw” of crows. Most flew purposefully in a line, but occasionally a few engaged in aerial acrobatics and dive-bombed one another.

I’ve never seen a flock this size (a group of crows is often referred to as a “murder”) and had flashbacks of the wake of turkey vultures I saw last winter. The swath lasted a good five minutes and I have no idea how many had already flown past before I noticed them.

There’s always something interesting to see in the skies above the Carson Valley.

Second full moon (and first lunar eclipse) of 2018

The second full moon of the year, dubbed a “Super Blue Moon,” will be on display Jan. 31.

It’s called “super” because of the moon’s proximity to Earth, and “blue” because it’s the second full moon within a single calendar month. Not only worthy of multiple descriptors, this full moon will also pass through the Earth’s shadow on Jan. 31, resulting in a total lunar eclipse.

The moon will appear reddish as it passes through the Earth’s shadow, earning it the additional moniker of “blood moon.”

Depending upon the weather, the eclipse will be visible in our area during the early morning hours of Jan. 31, with totality peaking at about 5:30 a.m.

Amy Roby can be reached at