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Eight-graders from St. Elizabeth in Baldwin bring literature to life

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 8:33 p.m.
Shailyn DiSciullo, left, and Kate Birch, both eighth-graders at St. Elizabeth Elementary School in Baldwin Borough, perform a skit about the invention of chocolate chip cookies for their peers as a part of the school’s “Literature Alive” day last Thursday. Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record
St. Elizabeth Elementary School eighth-graders from left Hunter Small, David Naugle, Nick Territ and Evan Baker perform a skit about the American industrialists for their peers as a part of the school’s “Literature Alive” day last Thursday. Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record
St. Elizabeth Elementary School fifth-graders Emily Rauch, left, and Sarah Bagay, both 10, create posters as part of the school’s “Literature Alive” day last Thursday. Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record
St. Elizabeth Elementary School fifth-graders Julia Saltzman, 10, left, and Gabrielle Lamenza, 11, create a poster as part of the school’s “Literature Alive” day last Thursday. Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record

It's a rite of passage for St. Elizabeth Elementary School eighth-graders: Dress up in suits and ties, and wear paper beards or hair rollers to perform skits for younger students.

“It feels like we're a big role model to all of these kids,” said Kyle White, 13.

Stories came to life at St. Elizabeth last week during the school's annual “Literature Alive Day.” This year's focus was “Great Inventors set the Standards.”

Each February, eighth-graders at the school prepare skits around that year's theme, designing costumes and performing their show for all kindergarten through seventh-grade classes.

“It's a real tradition,” Principal Maureen Richardson said. “It's one of the things that the eighth-graders look forward to.”

The “Literature Alive Day” program started about 10 years ago, initially focusing on reading, Richardson said. Now it promotes integrated, cross-curricular learning for all students, she said. They learn about history as they prepare projects, for example, or discover more about inventions.

Students in each grade studied famous and somewhat quirky inventions, from the Lego to the chocolate chip cookie. There were the serious topics, too, like Ben Franklin's kite, stove and bifocals or inventors from the American Industrial Revolution.

“We learned about cool inventions,” said Ryan Hough, 13.

Some students completed research papers on the topic, while others sketched pictures of their inventors.

Students in every grade said they have fun with the project.

Performing for their younger classmates is exhilarating, eighth-graders said.

“They always have the best reactions. They're like ‘Wow,' ‘Nuh uh,'” said eighth-grader Rachael Kandrat, 13.

The younger children, too, said they enjoyed the day.

“It's better than doing (traditional) school work,” said fifth-grader Julia Saltzman, 10.

“I already love reading and this makes it more fun,” added fifth-grader Gabrielle Lamenza, 11.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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