SPRING HILL — Children dressed in pajamas went to school one recent evening. They showed up at Westside Elementary with their siblings and parents, spread blankets on the cafeteria floor and plopped down to read.
"We're here to read books," said Bryn McCracken, who attended with her son, kindergartener Travis Sickler, 6.
"Reading books, you get to learn a lot of things and open your mind to new ideas," she said.
The two were at the school's "Reading is Out of This World" night, which was coordinated by Title 1 parent educator Stacie Wharton and media specialist Michelle Fontaine to celebrate National Parent Involvement Day.
Second-grader Megan Brousseau, 7, was an early arrival with her mother, Amy Brousseau, and sister, Madisyn Brousseau, 11, who is a Fox Chapel Middle School sixth-grader. Madisyn said she had never been to an event like this one. Her mother appreciated the opportunity for her and the girls to have an outing. "It's something fun the family can do," she said. "It's fun and it's educational."
Besides reading and snacks, the evening included the culmination of a contest and a presentation to a business partner.
Earlier, some teachers had dressed in disguises and were filmed holding open favorite books. The students had the opportunity to guess who the teachers were. Those with the most correct guesses were announced. Their prizes were brand-new copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever.
The winners were Jessica Huett, from Helen Shepard's second-grade class; Miguel Pupo, from Amy Moore's third-grade class, and Meghan Johnston, from Melissa Tomlinson's fourth-grade class.
There was a tie in the fifth grade: C.J. Wilshusen, from Irene Dongen's class, and Aidan Quinn, from Mary Meyer's class.
The business partner, the nearby Target store, nominated Westside to receive books valued at $500 from First Books Publishing Co. The school received 179 books. Representatives Dawn Gauthier, a human resources executive, and Wayne Husbands, of assets protection, accepted a banner signed by Westside students.
Besides milk and cookies, every student was allowed to choose and take home a free book, some from the First Books grant and some from the family center through Title 1. There was also a table with blank bookmarks, along with crayons, stickers and markers to decorate them.
Bill Ritch, his wife, Shirley Ritch, and their son, first-grader Jayson Ritch, 7, were among those who visited the school for the reading night. They came, Shirley Ritch said, because when there is "anything that the school does for the kids and helps my son learn … "
"We're here," she said in unison with her husband.