Blue Ribbon winSt. Francis sixth-grader wins statewide reading fair

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When St. Francis sixth-grader Adrienne Eckstein read “The Phantom Tollbooth” at the beginning of the school year, she had no idea her leisure reading would lead to a first place medal at a statewide competition.

“I chose the book because it’s funny,” Adrienne said. “I just liked it.”

Earlier this month, Adrienne, the 12-year-old daughter of Col. Jeff and Adrienne Eckstein, won first place at the Mississippi Department of Education’s 14th Annual State Reading Fair in Jackson. Her journey to the state capitol began at her school library for the St. Francis reading fair.

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“The reading fair creates an interest in reading for the students,” St. Francis librarian Dinnie Johnston said. “I’m glad to see students liking a book well enough to do the project.”

Adrienne spent about two weeks decorating a tri-fold board with the characters, plot summary, tone, conflict and resolution of the book. She decided to make her board resemble a map of the main character’s journey, complete with paper mountains and a tollbooth made from a shoebox.

“She did everything herself, even after she burned herself with the hot glue gun,” Adrienne’s mother said with a laugh. “She had a few questions, but she knew exactly what she wanted to do and did it.”

Once Adrienne made it past the St. Francis reading fair, she went to the district competition at the Vicksburg City Auditorium. After winning there, she moved on to the regional competition held at Delta State University and finally finished her successful tour at the state competition in Jackson.

“I did this last year but didn’t make it out of district,” Adrienne said. “It was fun in Jackson, the judges came around and talked to us.”

When the judges talked to Adrienne, they liked what they saw because that afternoon her name was called as the first place winner in the category for grades six through eight.

“I thought I might place but I didn’t think I was going to win,” Adrienne said. “I got a medal and got to go up on this little stage.”

“She’s just a great kid,” said Johnston, who has been Adrienne’s librarian since she came to St. Francis two years ago. “She’s multitalented, a great reader. The reading fair wasn’t required, and she stepped up and did well.”