Education feature: Pumpkin decorating contest aimed at promoting reading

Mailem Granillo said she designed her first place pumpkin by coloring foil with permanent markers.

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed

Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Terry Myers judges pumpkins Wednesday at Parkview Elementary as part of the school's first children's book themed pumpkin decorating contest.

Granillo, a fifth-grader at Parkview Elementary, won the top honor in the overall category Wednesday in her school's first pumpkin decorating contest.

Granillo's pumpkin was styled after the main character in book "The Rainbow Fish." She said her mother helped her design the pumpkin after reading the book together.

"The fish was shiny and we like the shiny stuff," said Granillo, giggling. "I liked coloring the foil."

Granillo's pumpkin was among the dozens on display in the main hall at Parkview Elementary, including one that resembled the protagonist in Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat."

The pumpkin displayed the face of the main character, a mischievous cat with human features, with a tall red and white-striped hat and a red bow tie.

Parkview Principal Mandy Carpenter said the contest was held to promote family reading and positive family projects at home and help students develop an interest in literature.

Carpenter said the contest gave parents and children a reason to work and read a book together. Students crafted pumpkins with their families.

Leandra Martinez, a sixth-grader, won second place in the overall category with her pumpkin crafted after the book "Nursery Rhymes."

Martinez recently came across an oversized pumpkin and said she quickly got the idea to create a Humpty Dumpty pumpkin after noticing the pumpkin's resemblance to an egg. She said her mother and father helped her design the pumpkin. She said Humpty Dumpty was her favorite childhood nursery rhyme.

"I've never made a pumpkin like this before," Martinez said. "I learned that it's fun to try something you've never done before."

Carpenter said the contest fit well into the school's agenda this week, which is book fair week at Parkview.

Carpenter said she found the idea online and decided to bring it to her school after seeing that the concept enhanced the holiday season at a couple schools across the nation.

The top three contest winners received gift certificates that can be used to purchase books in Parkview's book fair today. Profits from the book sale go toward supplying Parkview's library with new books.

Carpenter said she was most impressed by Granillo's pumpkin and pumpkins styled after characters in the books "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "Charlotte's Web."

"Kids are so excited about the holidays," Carpenter said. "We want them to celebrate holidays but we want to channel it in a way that is educational also. That's why we tied it to the books. It's the best of both worlds. They get to celebrate holidays but also read books."

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