Jason stark reads
Lifeguard, Jason Stark, reads from "The Shark God" during Hatch Elementary School's Young Readers Week.  Several readers from the community showed up to share stories and the importance of reading with young students

Inside Yajaira Dehnad’s second- and third-grade classroom, Corrine Bucher read “Shrek!” the 1990 book by William Steig that inspired the 2001 film. 

With unusual words punctuated throughout the quirky story, Bucher’s reading captivated the classroom, and kids laughed at the story of the recognizable character. 

“I thought it would be interesting to share a book that became a movie,” Bucher said. “They could see the differences between the story in the book and the movie and why that happens.”

It was just one chapter of Hatch Elementary School’s Young Readers Week, which took place last week at the Half Moon Bay campus. For five consecutive days, students participated in reading and writing events on campus. Shannon Murray, the school’s reading intervention teacher, helped organize the events, and was excited about sharing the importance of reading and writing.

Monday was the culmination of the read-a-thon. Students who read for more than six hours got a ticket to Six Flags, and the most minutes got a $50 gift certificate to Ink Spell Books. On Tuesday, Shawn Harris, an illustrator from El Granada, led two assemblies. He had students laughing and making paper cutouts. Wednesday morning was dedicated to books and bagels, as friends and families read together before class. On Friday, the students dressed as their favorite book character. 

Thursday morning was all about visiting community readers. Local parents and volunteers read personally selected books at three classrooms. Escorted and introduced by Hatch’s leadership students, more than a dozen readers made their way to various classrooms. California State Parks Lifeguard Jason Stark was on hand to read “The Shark God,” a fictional, illustrated tale about an ancient Polynesian family. 

Stark also took the time to show kids his day-to-day equipment, including fins, wetsuit and personal floatation device. After giving them a lesson on how to escape a rip current, Stark dove into the book. Afterward Stark discussed the plot, setting and thematic elements of the story. He offered a relatable figure to the students when he explained that as an elementary school student himself, he was often afraid to speak in public. Fifth-grader and leadership member Coral Myers was assigned to Stark and showed him around the classrooms. 

“I liked how he explained all about the lifeguards and his shark book,” she said. 

For Bucher, the week offered students a chance to expand their imagination and rekindle a love of reading. 

“This takes the love of reading to a different level,” said Bucher, the executive director for the Cabrillo Education Foundation. “It brings in adults the kids may see around the community, that they can relate to, and we get to share a moment with them around a book that we love. I think it’s very meaningful.” 

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