Ridgewood Elementary First Grade teacher Mrs. Holly Sartin holds up a copy of "The Best Part of Me," which was written and published by her students. (Mike Tobias/PNGISD)
By Mike Tobias
Mrs. Holly Sartin's students entered their class at Ridgewood Elementary not knowing what had happened to the room.
The front was decorated with a colorful balloon arch and a table full of popcorn and cupcakes.
"Do you remember when we worked on our book?" she asked her class, prodding them with a clue.
The room then filled with gasps as they each were presented with a copy of "The Best Part Of Me," a 42-page hardcover book published with the help of Student Treasures Publishing.
The topic is one which Sartin does annually in the spring and normally fills her hallway bulletin board.
"I thought it would be precious to make this as a book," Sartin said.
Each student was given two pages: one to be filled out with what they felt was the 'best part' of them and why. Sartin helped them fill the other page by taking a photo that illustrated their words.
Examples of her class' 'best parts' included hands, doing backbends and cartwheels, hearts, to show love and hold memories, feet, to dance and compete, and arms to play softball and hug their teacher.
"The hard part was for the sheets of paper to make the book, they had to write in pen," Sartin said. "But what helped was we had done the bulletin board work already, so they knew what they were going to write."
Once finished, it took three weeks for the books to come back. Each student received one, purchased by their parents and one copy was given to put into the school library.
"What kind of book would this be: fiction or non-fiction?" Librarian LaRae Bost asked the class while holding up her copy.
"Non-fiction!" the class shouted.
As the class tended to their treats and gleefully read their pages, Principal Kevin Schexnaider beamed with pride at the completion of their project.
"I'm so proud of y'all," he exclaimed.
Judging by 21 sets of smiles across the room, they were, too.