Mantua – On a recent Friday evening, CPS students and their families had the chance to visit to Dimwood Forest, stepping into the pages of this year’s One Book, One School story, ‘Poppy’ by Newbury medal-winning author, Avi. Students and their teachers spent a total of 53,036 minutes over an eight-day period to read the book. Through the process, the story came to life in the classrooms, in the hallways lined with story-themed artwork, and more importantly, in the students’ minds.

In class, students sat awe-struck as the story unfolded. They learned about a brave little deer mouse named Poppy, who made a heroic journey, and eventually stood up to the great horned owl who terrorized her family.

Crestwood High School Drama Club in ‘Poppy: The Play’


In addition, each teacher incorporated the topics from the book into other disciplines. One of the teachers behind this event, second-grade teacher Monica Grebb, shared, “Some teachers talked about the food chain, while some used the subject matter as writing prompts. School-wide, the topic of bullying was discussed, since Ocax the owl bullied Poppy and her family.”

According to Grebb, “We researched popular One Book, One School books and liked the anti-bullying message;” she explained. “We also liked that the story included an owl, since many teachers have incorporated owls into their classrooms this year. For us, the book seemed like a perfect fit.”

At the special Friday evening event to wrap up the program, students and their families participated in four special activities: An owl presentation, a fun owl craft, ‘Poppy – the Play’ presented by CHS Drama Club students David Bowles, Amber Beer, Chelsea Evans, Hannah Hilty and Allyssa Swan, and directed by Desirae Day, as well as a ballroom dancing demonstration.

Event co-organizer, CPS music teacher Jennifer Gilles, called in a favor from a friend, and the Fred Astaire Dance Studio.  As a result, dancers came out to demonstrate a variety of ballroom dances, since dance was an element of the story, as well.  In fact, here’s a spoiler alert worth sharing: at the end of the book, Poppy shared this universal message: “It doesn’t matter how you dance, my children. As long as you are free to dance in the open air by the light of the moon, all will be well.”

In addition, a representative from the Akron Zoo was on hand to share interesting owl facts and their recorded calls with students, but the high point was when she brought out a live bird, giving students an up-close-and-personal view of a barn owl. Lastly, students traveled to the art room where art teacher Mikayla McCall showed them how to create their own owl masks to take home. After participating in all four events, each student received an owl pellet dissection lab kit, complete with a barn owl pellet, gloves, and a booklet to help families investigate the food-chain topic in further detail at home.

This was the fourth time Crestwood Primary has held a One Book, One School program; previous books included ‘The Mouse and the Motorcycle’ by Beverly Cleary and ‘Charlotte’s Web’ by E. B White. This year’s program was funded by the CPS PTO and through the CPS Principal’s Fund.

And while Grebb and Gilles have already started discussing potential ideas for next year’s program, you’ll just have to wait until next year to find out about the next CPS school-wide reading adventure!