Elementary students become authors, hold Author’s Tea

By PAMELA GRANT
Cove Leader-Press

Did you know that Mars has ice caps on its poles or that Uranus spins on its side? Cindy Powell’s 1st grade students learned these facts and more as they worked together to create their very own book, “Exploring Space.”
Each of Powell’s 21 Clements/Parsons Elementary students wrote and illustrated a page in the book talking about a planet, astronaut, or other aspect of space. They each worked hard researching, writing, proof-reading, re-writing, editing, and re-writing again before reaching their final product. They worked for weeks with their teacher and even were able to constructively critique each other’s drawings and offer creative advice.
All of their hard work finally paid off Thursday with the school’s Author’s Tea, during which each student read their section of the book before an audience. In addition, they each received their own copy of the book courtesy of the members of Mount Hiram Masonic Lodge #595 AF&AM. 
James Hamilton, Senior Warden of the Mount Hiram Masonic Lodge, said that the masons have a history of supporting education within the community. Before Texas was a state, the masons built many of the state’s first schools. They built two story buildings with the top floor used for lodge meetings and the bottom was used as a church and for school.
“The masons had the foresight to know that an educated public is going to be a more productive and peaceful public,” said Hamilton.
The masons give out scholarships and have other programs to support our local schools. Hamilton said that the masons are motivated by their love of helping children and love for the community.
Hamilton was personally moved by the Author’s Tea. He said that when he was a child, he struggled in school. Later in life, he was able to succeed and has even been published, but he said that, as a child, he never had a teacher that did something like what Mrs. Powell has done for her students to show him his worth.
“I’m hoping that we, as a group, are helping these children achieve something that most people never achieve in their life, and it is fulfilling here,” said Hamilton as he placed his hand over his heart. “That’s why we do it, because we love the children.”
After the children finished reading their work, they were delighted to sign the brochures of those who attended the reading. Mrs. Powell encouraged them saying that they could be famous authors, scientists, artists, etc. and that attendees should hang on to the brochures, just in case, so that they could say they have the child’s very first autograph.
Powell said that the children were so excited to receive their copy of their book. She said that many of them were hugging them as they were putting them into their bookbags. 
Brayden Chase (7) wrote his page about Mars. He said that his favorite thing that he learned about Mars was that it has ice at its poles. He was happy that he got assigned Mars because he said that it is his favorite planet. Chase said that the project was pretty difficult. 
“We had to practice two times and then we had to write a whole sheet that you couldn’t erase on,” said Chase. 
Chase said that he really liked having Mrs. Powell as a teacher, “She was a nice teacher, and I’m sad that she’s retiring.”
Elizabeth Chase, Brayden Chase’s mother, said that all three of her children were able to make a book while they were in Mrs. Powell’s class.
“It’s just really awesome for these kids to get this experience, in the 1st grade, at six and seven years old, to be a part of authoring a book and having it published,” said Elizabeth Chase.
Chase said that she hopes that another teacher will continue the project even after Powell retires.
She is retiring after teaching for 41 years, 30 of which were in Texas. She hopes that next year another teacher will continue her tradition. She said that it helps the students learn a lot. Many of them are used to doing projects that they can finish in just one or two days, but they spend about four weeks working on making their book a reality.
“I hope they learn that anything worth doing takes time,” said Powell.

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