Lawndale challenges students to create inspirational boxes

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Lawndale Elementary students are combining two books they are reading into a project that encourages them to serve others and to dream big.
The fourth- and fifth-grade challenge students, taught by Teresa Gregory and Sally Amos, have already read the book “Dream” by Susan V. Bosak and are beginning “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson.
“It goes with leadership, setting goals and being responsible for doing things,” Gregory said.
Those students are creating dream chests, similar to ones found in “Dream,” to inspire them to pursue their goals. They will also initiate a “Pennies for Peace” campaign to collect money to support schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as Mortenson did in “Three Cups of Tea.”
The dream chests are small wooden boxes that the students will decorate with artwork. They will fill the boxes with newspaper and magazine articles and other items to remind them of goals they have set.
“We learned that we’re not too old and not too young to dream,” said fifth-grader Jasman Mitchell.
She said she would place a tiny binder in her dream box because she wants to be a teacher.
Meanwhile, fellow fifth-grader Maddy Harris, 10, said she would fill her box with pictures from swimming magazines.
“I learned that when you dream, it might not always come true, but at least you were able to think that it was a possibility,” she said.
“Three Cups of Tea” is about Mortenson’s journey to climb the highest mountain in Pakistan.
When he doesn’t succeed, he believes he is a failure, but later comes across a group of children holding class by themselves because their teacher split time between them and other villages.
Seeing the students working on multiplication problems in the dirt, Mortenson was inspired to build a school for them.

Readers all over
Fourth- and fifth-grade challenge students at other Tupelo elementary schools will also read “Three Cups of Tea,” and they won’t be alone. The book is part of Mississippi State’s common freshman reading program and will be read by students at the university.
Meanwhile, MSU first lady Rhonda Keenum has encouraged young readers across the state to read “Listen to the Wind,” the children’s version of “Three Cups of Tea.” She will read that version to kindergarten to fourth-grade students in a Sept. 10 4 p.m. broadcast. Extension sites in Lafayette County, Lee County and Prentiss County will participate.
Meanwhile, at Lawndale, students will also study the geography and culture of Pakistan and Afghanistan while they read Mortenson’s book. They’ll also learn just how much of a difference that the spare change they donate can make.
“With everything going on in Pakistan and Afghanistan right now, this really pulls them in to what they can do,” Gregory said.

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.