Mantua – Charlotte’s Web came to life at Crestwood Primary School (CPS) last Thursday. Students, teachers and staff learned that they had “Some School” as they saw their cafeteria transformed into Wilbur’s home at Mr. Zuckerman’s farm. The menagerie included two sheep, one miniature horse, and one calf, courtesy of Larry Guyette, father of first grader Abby, and second grader Elaine. But the star attractions, weighing in at around 35 pounds each, were two little piglets, aptly named Charlotte and Wilbur.The six-week-old piglets, belonging to Jerry Cavanaugh, took a field trip to CPS thanks to Cavanaugh’s fiancé – CPS first grade teacher Monica Chesla. At the start of the reading program in January, Principal Mrs. Trivelli had promised to “do something really special” if the school reached 1,500 or more total books read that month as part of the school’s “One Book, One School” reading program. Trivelli agreed to kiss a pig, and she did not disappoint her school.
At the high point of Thursday’s festivities, she kept her promise and planted a kiss on Wilbur’s protesting snout, to the delight of her students and staff. Wilbur had no comment, but Trivelli credits the schoolwide motto “Readers are Leaders,” with the huge number of books read. That, plus the fact that she agreed to kiss a pig, really motivated her students to read. And read they did, with the grand total of books read soaring to 2,270 books read — almost 800 more books than anticipated.
But the afternoon was about more than just porcine pecks — it was a real family affair. Chelsa’s eighth grader Morgan, along with friend, Emma Urban, came to share details on what it’s like to raise pigs as a part of their Portage County 4-H Club. After Morgan and Emma spoke, Principal Trivelli made sure that students knew, on behalf of first grader ( and Morgan’s little sister) Mary Chesla, that Wilbur and Charlotte live at Mary’s house.
Charlotte’s Web was noted as one of the top 100 chapter books of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal. It’s no wonder that Crestwood Primary School chose the book as the subject of this year’s reading program. In the story, a pig named Wilbur is spared from slaughter after a spider named Charlotte befriends him, denoting his special status by weaving the words “Some Pig,” into a spider web above Wilbur’s pen.
In addition to reading books at home, each class read Charlotte’s Web at school during the month of January. Morning announcements included interesting farm facts, like how many gallons of milk a cow can give per day(6-9, depending on breed and weather conditions) and how to tell which way a horse is looking (most of the time, horses ears point where they are looking — often at two different things at once). Students also completed farm-related activities and spider projects that were prominently displayed throughout the building – culminating in the giant web woven in the cafeteria, which aptly noted the school’s motto “Readers are Leaders.”
At the end of the program, every student was given a non-fiction book about spiders to add to their home library.
Later that evening, CPS hosted a family movie night, giving 300 students and their families the chance to share popcorn and watch Charlotte’s Web. Unfortunately, Charlotte, Wilbur and the other animals had returned to their respective barns by then. With the success of both the reading program and the movie night, most people agree that Crestwood Primary is “Some School” and Mrs. Trivelli is “Some Principal.”