LINGLE – It’s one of those legendary questions: Who wins the race, the tortoise or the hare?
Reading students at Lingle-Fort Laramie Elementary School here finally have the answer.
As part of their regular monthly reading celebration Friday, students got the chance to hear the Aesop Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare from Terri Walford, a speech aide for the district. But, when they filed into the gymnasium at the school, more than an adult greeted them, ready to read them another book.
There was a racetrack assembled under the basket on one end of the gym. And there was a large, green plastic storage tote, from which issued the occasional unidentified scratching noise.
After Ms. Walford finished the story, the cause of those strange scrabbling noises became clear, when she lifted the lid and a small, furry head topped by a pair of distinctive ears poked out.
Ms. Walford had brought two of her friends – a young rabbit name Fufu and her pet tortoise that goes by the moniker of Juju – to reenact that ages-old race.
“It was interesting,” student Miles Wilson, 11, said after the race. “I’ve read the fable a hundred times. I wanted to see what the actual race would be like.”
The monthly reading celebrations recognize students in the school who read at least an extra 20 minutes a day, said Denise Jackson, who works in the library at the school. The students who follow through with that commitment each month – usually slightly more than half the 150 or so kids in the school – are invited to the special monthly celebrations.
Students can read anything they want, from the newspaper to books to cereal boxes in the grocery store, Ms. Jackson said. As long as they’re reading, it qualifies
And it seems to be working.
“I love reading,” said 10-year-old Jordan Napier. “I thought this was a good experience, to see the actual animals. It brought the story to life.”
This isn’t the first time Ms. Walford has brought members of her personal menagerie to delight the students at L-FL Elementary. She’s populated the school grounds with critters on the last day of school before, to the delight of both herself and the children.
“I’m just a big kid at heart,” Ms. Walford said. “I have a lot of crazy animals.”
Some of the critters she’s shared with the kids include a gecko, a tarantula and a donkey, along with the stand-by chickens, cats and dogs. She had an iguana that was a regular in the school, but he passed away.
This time, she thought it would be fun to bring Tutu and Juju and to share the Aesop Fable about the tortoise and the hare, which traditionally teaches that perseverance at any task, is the best way to succeed. Sharing the fable with the youngsters would introduce them to a style of literature, which they may not have been familiar with.
A couple of the older students, Brianna Lowther and Ryan Trowbridge, both 11, got the chance to help out, serving as rabbit wrangler and tortoise trainer at the starting line of the race. Ms. Lowther said getting the chance to help out made the experience particularly enjoyable.
Trowbridge agreed: “It was cool how they put the animals in real life in the race.”
The recent reading celebration recognized the student’s efforts for the month of February. Ms. Jackson said she hopes to push the percentage of students participation closer to the 100 percent mark for the March reading celebration, set for near the end of April. A special treat is in the offing, she said, which could be even more exciting than a tortoise-hare face-off.
The school is working with the Wyoming National Guard from Camp Guernsey to fly one of their Blackhawk helicopters to land at the school on April 27, Ms. Jackson said. It’s all part of the goal to propel students into their futures, she said.
“Whatever way they learn to read, it’s an opportunity,” Ms. Jackson said. “It’s been proven, time and time again, reading helps kids become life-long learners.”