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Amid nat’l grief, Read-Along brings joy to Bulacan kids

As the country marked the National Day of Mourning on Friday in honor of the 44 police commandos killed in battle with Muslim rebels in Maguindanao, some 800 students in Bulacan bowed their heads in prayer for the fallen heroes.

But the prayers were also of thanksgiving for that morning’s activity, which has been held as part of the Inquirer’s Read-Along program for the past seven years.

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Aside from several read-along sessions with students, teachers and TV personalities, games, treats and entertainment numbers, the pupils of Malhacan Elementary School in Meycauayan, Bulacan, also expressed their gratitude for the books donated as part of Sophia School’s annual Adopt-A-Kid project.

Started in 2009, the project is meant to foster a love of reading among children and has so far reached more than a thousand underprivileged kids from Meycauayan and Marilao towns in Bulacan.

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The day’s activity, held to mark Sophia School’s 20th year, had the teachers and students singing, dancing and telling stories during the Inquirer Read-Along session, the first for this year. The session also featured TV5 teen stars Mark Neumann and Shaira Mae de la Cruz.

 

Life lessons

Neumann and De la Cruz read in tandem Rebecca Añonuevo’s “Ang Mahiyaing Manok,” which tells of a shy rooster overcoming its insecurity to crow as loudly and as well as the others, while Sophia School teachers Osang de la Vega, Lorna Darilag, Salie Villaluz and Dhang Bernabe read Jenny Evans’ “Gaya’s Gift,” about a carabao who discovers her “special gift.”

“Everyone was enthusiastic and cooperative,” said senior student Katrina Rodeadilla, president of the student council. “Even the preschoolers brought piles of storybooks as donations.”

As a four-time Adopt-a-Kid organizer, Rodeadilla said the project has enabled the students to share their blessings with others. “We show gratitude by sharing our blessings with the less fortunate ones,” she said.

Returning storyteller Neumann said his second time as Read-Along storyteller was made more memorable and happier because “there were more kids… and they were very energetic and attentive.”

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He added: “I think the best part of the session was the interaction with the kids. From the story (of the shy rooster), I hope the children learned that it’s important to trust yourself and to be confident about doing something (you) want. Trust what you can do and be strong. And if that’s still not enough, you always have your friends and family to support you.”

Felt youthful

De la Cruz described her first time as a Read-Along storyteller as something that made her feel youthful, at the same time that she felt like a teacher and older sister to her young listeners.

She added that she was glad to be able to impart life lessons to the students. “You should have faith in your own skills and be proud of who you are. I hope the (students) won’t feel embarrassed or afraid to explore what can help them become better.”

Grade 5 pupil Sarah Mae agreed. The shy rooster’s story taught her to believe in herself, she said.

Second grader Freshly said as much:   “We should not be afraid to show what we can do,” said the seven-year-old who initially had no idea about the activity planned that morning in the covered quadrangle of their school.

 

Improve reading skills

But she perked up immediately when she learned about the storytelling session. “Who will be the readers?” she asked eagerly, while admitting that she had yet to improve her reading skills.

The students were also entertained by Sophia School’s Angklung ensemble, Terpsichoreans dance troupe and the Spins and Swirls Poi Club, and were ltreated to healthy meals from Café Nenzo and drinks from Sophia School parents. Flamebridge Publications, Metrobank (Meycauayan-Malhacan branch) and STI Meycauayan gave the prizes for the question-and-answer portion of the program.

Friday’s session, hosted by Junior Inquirer editor Ruth Navarra-Mayo and Sophia School principal Ann Abacan, was held in cooperation with Jan Bautista, MJ Francisco, Paul Mata and Connie Tungul of TV5, the Department of Education-Meycauayan Division and Chino Abacan.

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TAGS: Bulacan, Fallen 44, Fallen Commandos, Inquirer Read-Along, National Day of Mourning, Read-along
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