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The City Journals

Oakcrest families consume 900 doughnuts and 1,000 books

May 03, 2019 11:05AM ● By Jet Burnham

Aleasa Cooper enjoys donuts with her third-grader Braiden and kindergartener Hunter. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

On the morning of Breakfast and Books at Oakcrest Elementary, Becky Evans and her second-grader Jon waited 15 minutes in line before they got their doughnuts and juice. They then pressed their way through the crowded cafeteria for Jon to select his free book. 

Jon was hoping to find a “Dog Man” book, a popular book series by best-selling “Captain Underpants author Dav Pilkey, which Evans said the whole second grade is obsessed with.

“It’s like the rave of second grade,” said Evans, who works part time as a computer aid at the school.

Despite the long lines and crowds, Evans said Oakcrest families look forward to Breakfast and Books each spring and fall.

“The kids get excited because they know they’re going to get a book—and they’re excited about the doughnuts, too,” she said. Her second-grader needed no prompting to be ready for school.

“Usually he’s just sauntering out the door, but today he’s like, ‘Let’s go, Mom!’” she said.

The activity began at 8 a.m., with the line forming 20 minutes early. The families at the end of the line got their breakfast at 8:35 a.m., with just a few dozen donuts to spare.

Rebecca Sudweeks, chair for the event, was relieved the 900 doughnuts she purchased were enough. She said families love the event, and the PTA just never knows how many to plan for.

“The community is growing,” said Sudweeks. “We have so much new development out here, there’s just more families every year.”

The PTA purchased 1,000 books and let each student—and their siblings—take a book home.

“I think that the goal for this event is to just share the love of books with the families in our school,” said Sudweeks. “Our book fairs are so successful, so we use the credit that we get from Scholastic to get these free books for the kids.”

While Hunter Cooper, a kindergartener, loves to read, his older brother Braiden doesn’t. However, when the third-grader saw the variety of books available at Breakfast and Books, he was optimistic.

“I might actually find some book that I like,” said Braiden.

Stacy Haight, who has served on the PTA board for many years, said they try to buy books that kids will want to read while staying within the PTA budget.

“Our book fairs are really successful so we’re able to be generous,” she said.

Misti Abplanalp said the Breakfast and Books program instills in students how important reading is. Her second-grade daughter, like many elementary-aged students, is required to read 500 minutes per month. She said it isn’t hard to fit in 10–20 minutes of reading a day because her daughter loves to read.

Eighth-grader Sean Pedigo believes reading is important.

“It helps your concentration and your ability to think about stuff and see other peoples’ points of view,” he said. Since his younger brother, Harrison, really wanted to pick out a book, and Sean’s middle school has a late start on Friday mornings, Sean brought him to the event.

It took 20 PTA volunteers and help from the student council to hand out tickets for doughnuts, refill cups of orange juice and chocolate milk and keep the book tables stocked.

Lola Shepherd, a sixth-grader on the student council, helped students pick out their book. She thinks the Breakfast and Books program is a great way to get kids excited about reading.

“I think it’s good that they do doughnuts and chocolate milk or orange juice so it will make them want to come,” she said. “They’ll want to come, and then they can see all the cool books to choose from, and they’ll want to start reading.”

Kristin Gonzales, PTA president-elect, said there are 988 students at Oakcrest this year, but they expect more than 1,100 next year.

“We’re going to keep the tradition going with slight alterations,” she said.

Haight has already volunteered to run the event next year because it is her favorite PTA activity of the year.

“I just really like that it is putting books in kids’ hands,” said Haight. “I think owning a book is important for kids—just to have something new to read, and they get to choose it themselves.”