The Josephine School Community Museum echoed with the voices of Clarke County students participating in the 6th Annual Black History Dramatic Reading Competition on Saturday. Twenty six young readers competed for the coveted Helen O. Carr Award before a standing-room only audience of parents, educators and community members. Clarke County 4th grader Eric Novak won the grand prize award in the 4th & 5th grade competition while 3rd grader Cynthia Fairbanks took the grand prize in the 2nd & 3rd grade competition for the second year in a row.
The competition is the work of Helen Carr and Dorothy Davis, both active members of the Josephine School Community Museum. Local students demonstrated that brotherly love and social equality are more than just concepts here in Clarke County. Over 100 citizens gathered on Josephine Street to celebrate Black History, freedom and human rights for all people.
“It wasn’t until the end of Civil Rights era that boys and girls of color had books to read that illustrated their history. Back then we heard the slogan “Black is Beautiful” but there was no evidence of that in children’s books. Most of the books had white characters.” Carr said. Carr, a professional school librarian, founded the dramatic reading competition as a way to promote her two life long passions; reading and Black History.
“I’ve always felt that readers didn’t get the same recognition as runners or basketball players. This is a chance to recognize children who love to read.” Carr told the audience. “I’m overjoyed to see so many participants from years past in the audience. I guess that means that they must have enjoyed the experience.”
Each reader was asked to perform a two – four minute reading of their choice that depicted some aspect of Black History. Each contestant was judged in competition with other students from their school grade level. 2nd and 3rd graders competed as a group while 3rd and 4th graders competed as a second group.
4th grade grand prize winner Eric Novak read “The Patchwork Path” by Bettye Stroud describing how the quilting tradition of slaves allowed them to secretly create maps of the Underground Railroad in their needlework.
“Flossie and the Fox”, performed by 3rd grade grand prize winner Cynthia Fairbanks, delighted the audience with the portrayal of a young girl using quick thinking to outwit a sly fox.
The competition awarded three winners from each of the two groups with gift certificates from the Berryville’s “Old Book Shop”. Old Book Shop owner Bonnie Justice decided to offer prizes for the tournament because “We’re book lovers and we want to encourage anything that gets people in our community interested in reading”.
2nd Grade Readers:
Barbara Fairbanks (1st place), Issac Rojas, Derek Spincis (3rd place), Ashleigh Ogata (2nd place), Riley Marasco, Clara Davidson, Dana Ramey, Kiley Ramey
3rd Grade Readers:
Cynthia Fairbanks (2nd & 3rd GradeGrand Prize Winner), Taliyah Brown (1st place), Tyler Limoges (2nd place), Ryleigh Travers (3rd place), Stephanie Miller, Imari Paige, Morgan Canton, Madison Hummer, Zachary Koontz, Mikayla St. Clair
4th Grade Readers:
Erik Novak (4th & 5th Grade Grand Prize Winner), Madison Farmer (1st place), Jade Feltner (2nd place), Margarite Fisher (3rd place), Faith Coffelt
5th Grade Readers:
Alexandra Marasco (First place), Madison Melusen (Second place), Matthew Betz (3rd place)