As the Leipsic third, fourth and fifth grade students snacked on s’more mix, sixth grade teacher Kati Huth (foreground) read Bear’s New Friend during the school’s Right to Read Week Sleepover on Friday evening. See story on A11. (Putnam Sentinel/Becky Leader)
As the Leipsic third, fourth and fifth grade students snacked on s’more mix, sixth grade teacher Kati Huth (foreground) read Bear’s New Friend during the school’s Right to Read Week Sleepover on Friday evening. See story on A11. (Putnam Sentinel/Becky Leader)

LEIPSIC — Leipsic Elementary School brought back a creative way for its students to develop lifetime reading habits on Friday night at “Camp Read-A-Lot,” as they kicked off Right to Read Week (May 12-16) with a sleepover at the school.

The school used to host the event on an annual basis, but it had fallen by the wayside. Third grade teacher Jacie Eding, who grew up in Leipsic, was a new teacher in the district this year.

“I asked another teacher, ‘Do you remember back in the day when we used to have sleepovers at school?’ Within five minutes of that conversation, we asked Mr. Henry if we could do this, and he agreed,” Eding recalled.

A core group of five teachers began planning the event in January, with the guidance of Fred Bryan, the former elementary principal who had initiated the sleepovers in the 1980s and 90s. Many of the teachers and staff volunteered to make this sleepover a success.

Ninety-one students in grades one through five attended the sleepover, which was offered at no cost to the participants. Eding said money garnered from Box Tops for Education paid for the crafts and water. Thirty-two adults and six older elementary students helped supervise the younger children. The children arrived at 6 p.m. Throughout the night, different activities were planned, such as making lightning bugs out of 20 ounce bottles, making s’more snack mix, and the much-anticipated dance party in the gymnasium.

“It’s awesome,” exclaimed second-grader Penny Sanchez. “I’m looking forward to dancing!”

Of course, there was plenty of reading, too, which took place in different areas of the school. The auditeria was converted into a “campground”; sleeping bags crowded the floor, a tent and a small “campfire” and wild (stuffed) animals were prominently displayed on the stage.

Henry smiled as he looked around at his students.

“The kids like that this is not the structure of a normal school day, and they get to see their teachers doing different activities such as dancing,” he commented. “It gets the parents involved and gets the kids excited about reading.”

Eding told the children that the school has many activities planned next week to encourage a love of the skill. Each classroom door was elaborately decorated in the camping motif. Students and staff will have a different dress-up theme each day. An author will visit to talk about her books. Students will be able to earn tickets and win books that will be theirs to keep.

The children cheered the loudest when they learned if they accumulate 2,000 AR (Accelerated Reader) points, Henry would get a pie in his face. Accelerated Reader points are earned when a child reads a book then takes an on-line test.

Henry grinned, “I think I’ll be getting pied.”