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'The Little Red Hen' has Great Bend reading
Little Red Hen GBHS skit
Great Bend High School theater students prepare to perform “The Little Red Hen” for kindergartners at Jefferson Elementary School on Tuesday morning. - photo by Susan Thacker

The Great Bend Reading Initiative is underway with children from preschool to grade 2 taking home copies of “The Little Red Hen.” The entire community is encouraged to read to preschoolers or listen to beginning readers during the month of November.

Great Bend High School drama students did their part this week by visiting the Great Bend USD 428 elementary schools and performing a skit based on the classic story of the Little Red Hen.

GBHS instructor Holly Johnson teaches four drama classes, and all of them got involved in producing the skit. The students learn “theater tech” as well as performance skills.

“Each class worked together to get or make props, a set and costumes,” Johnson said. Each class had its own cast and the actors memorized their lines and practiced multiple times. “I am very proud of them,” Johnson said.

The high school students also took their production to the Helping Hands Preschool at the Washington Early Education Center on Tuesday morning and afternoon. A show at the Great Bend Public Library was scrapped after a scheduling mix-up but they may try to schedule a show there next week.

Great Bend Public Library is also involved in the Great Bend Reading Initiative and on Saturday, November 16, the library will hold “The Little Red Hen’s Barnyard Bash” at 10:30 a.m.

GBPL Children’s Librarian Amy Mayhill said the bash will include tractors from KanEquip in the library parking lot. Inside, someone from the Stafford County Flour Mills will show Hudson Cream Flour and an extension agent from the KSU Cottonwood District will talk about bread making. They also hope to have music and some live chickens, Mayhill said.

The Great Bend Reading Initiative began in 2015 as “One District, One Book.” That year, all of the elementary students received copies of “The World According to Humphrey.” Children were given a copy to take home and read with their families. There were daily trivia questions for prizes at the schools, and the entire community was invited to get involved.

The Great Bend USD 428 Education Foundation has continued to support this program, which later became the Great Bend Reading Initiative. This year’s initiative coordinator is Lincoln Elementary School Principal Misty Straub. For the first time, the district has chosen a book aimed at younger readers and future readers, from preschool through second grade. The plan is to focus on grades 3-6 next year and alternate the reading initiative, Straub said.