GRANTS – “Catch-a-bubble.”
Governor Susana Martinez met with first graders at Mesa View Elementary School yesterday at 9:45 a.m.
Martinez told students to “Catch-a-bubble” several times as they, like the rest of the school’s staff demonstrate how excited they were about her visit.
And, she repeated the school yard phrase to students to be quiet and listen several more times as she emphasized to them the importance of reading.
More than 28,000 books were purchased for every first grade student in the state, according to Larry Behrens, state Public Education and Higher Education Department’s public information officer. The books are provided in English, Spanish and Navajo, depending on the school’s enrollment.
“The biggest title purchased is the book ‘E is for Enchantment,’ a book about New Mexico illustrated by a New Mexico artist,” said Behrens through email. ‘E is for Enchantment’ is the book Martinez read and gave copies to all 67 first graders at Mesa View Elementary.
The cost of the books was around $190,000 and was paid for as part of the Governor’s “Reads to Lead” program, which focuses on early literacy, said Behrens. This is the second year of the program and the second year Gov. Martinez pushed the first grader reading initiative at the Grants’ school.
“There are lots of books in this school and at the town’s library,” Martinez noted to students. “There is no reason for you not to read.”
“Last year she read to one first grade class,” said Mesa View Principal Mike O’Connell. “This year, for whatever reason, she chose to read to all the first graders.”
The first grade are actually testing this week, therefore, the visit from the Governor was a special treat. Regular instruction for the young students begins next week.
“Why do you read?” Martinez asked the youngsters.
“So you can learn,” one student immediately shouted.
“To see animals,” said another.
Lastly, “Be smart,” a young girl said quietly.
“Exactly,” said Martinez. “Those are the answers I wanted. If you want to be strong, you work at it… you exercise. Same with reading, you need to work at it everyday.”
‘E for Enchantment’ is a children’s book that focuses on the alphabet, A to Z, New Mexico style.
“B for black bear,” Martinez said to the students. “And the black bear is who? Smokey the Bear.”
The O was for Georgia O’Keefe, a famous New Mexico artist. “In the governor’s mansion in Santa Fe there is a famous painting from O’Keefe, how much do you think it’s worth?” she asked the first graders.
One child said, “Thousands of dollars.”
“How about millions of dollars?” answered Martinez.
R was for ristra, X for xeriscaping, Y for yucca and lastly, Z for the Zia symbol.
Martinez ended the special event by stating, “Promise me you will read. You can read with parents, your brother, your sister, anyone. Just promise you will read so you can be smart.”
Mesa View Elementary received a B grade last year and this year from the state’s Public Education Department, according to district officials.