Reading comes to life

A group of Phillips Elementary students got to meet an alpaca and see Marietta’s Christmas lights in style Tuesday evening.

The school’s annual Reading Night featured the book “Llama Llama Holiday Drama” and a visit with the titular animal’s cousin, a baby alpaca from a local farm. And, because ’tis the season, kindergarten and first-grade Title I reading students and their families were treated to a trolley ride around town, plus hot chocolate and cookies.

“I think it’s pretty cool that the school does things like this,” said Lyria Boice, 26, whose son Brock, a kindergartener at the school, was excited to pet the alpaca.

Tricia Hawkins, who brought the animal with her husband, Troy, from their Marietta Township farm, said the alpaca was born in October.

“They’re very curious, just like kids are,” she told students in the school library while her husband held the alpaca. “She’s very, very, very soft, like the softest teddy bear you’ve ever felt.”

Kindergartener Carter Sellers confirmed the latter statement after petting the animal and running his fingers through its wool.

“She feels really soft,” he said.

First-grade teacher Debbie Luman came up with the theme for this year’s Reading Night, based on author Anna Dewdney’s best-selling “Llama Llama” series. Carter’s a fan.

“I have four books about them,” he said.

Leading up to the event, students learned llamas and alpacas, their differences – llamas live longer and are raised for their meat as well as wool – and similarities – both come from South America and both spit.

The reading of the story was meant to benefit parents as well as students, who receive additional help with reading from Title I teachers like Phillips’ Karen Amrine.

“The parents will be watching Mrs. Luman reading the book, and (it will) give them ideas on reading to their children,” Amrine said.

Reading Night is an annual event at the school, with a different theme and group of students to focus on each year, Amrine said.