November 30, 2021

Cincy kids debut book

Katie Keyser/contributing photographer

Addison Moses, 10, left, Amelia Wagner, 10 and Sailor Stith, 11, members of Cincinnatus School Writers Club, talk Tuesday about the book they helped write: “Our Community Is Important.”

CINCINNATUS — Ten-year-old Amelia Wagner learned about the nitty gritty of writing thanks to a book she and her classmates wrote at Cincinnatus Elementary School.

“You have to be very specific in your words,” she said.

“Our Community Is Important” was published under the guidance of teacher Lorelei Rice and aide Amy Stith and debuted Tuesday during a special tea and reception at the school.

“I wrote about the Family Health Network and the Kellogg Free Library,” Wagner said. “I know I made at least three to four drafts of everything. And then we had to outline it when done.”

More than 100 parents, business owners and church leaders gathered in the auditorium where the kids read their pages.

Refreshments and cake followed.

Rice discovered when sending out questionnaires to potential subjects that there were 26 business around the block. She decided that would be a focus, as well as Cincinnatus’ five churches and other nonprofits.

“I think it’s a remarkable accomplishment for these kids,” said Laura Russock of Cincinnatus. “They put a lot of time, a lot of effort into it and it shows they are proud of the community.”

The school district bought copies of the book and donated them to churches and business owners.

This is Rice’s third book project. She worked with kids on “What’s Important,” with her class in 2015-2016 and “Who’s Important in Our School,” in 2016-2017 and worked closely with Amy Stith on this year’s publication. Studentreasures was the publisher. People can buy a copy at the Studentreasures website.

“I think it was amazing,” said Linda Brown. The Cincinnatus woman is grandmother to Jelsie Stafford, one of the authors. “This community always shows a lot of support and love for each other. Writing a book about the community doesn’t surprise me a bit.”

“I feel like kids need to write,” Rice said. “It’s also a fun way kids get the opportunity to be an author.

… This year, I wanted to do something about the community.” Rice will retire in June after 29 years as a teacher, 12 in McGraw School District and 17 years at Cincinnatus.

Rice was a classroom teacher during the first two books and switched to a reading teacher post for the third.

She and Stith organized a Cincinnatus School Writers Club to accomplish this year’s effort.

The 16 volunteers fourthand fifth-graders met on Thursdays to write and then added Tuesdays as they got close to their deadline.

“It’s taken about six months,” Wagner said.

“They had to volunteer,” Rice said. “I wanted fourth and fifth graders. They wrote on the two other books with me. But more than two thirds didn’t write a book with me, they just wanted to learn.”

The students focused on all the businesses in Cincinnatus, said Sailor Stith, 11, of Pitcher. “I wrote about NBT Bank and the Cincinnatus Fire Department,” she said.

The girl interviewed the bank manager and her mom’s cousin in the fire department, as well as another fire official.

Addison Moses, 10, of Cincinnatus, wrote about the school, almost 100 years old, and about Chenango Cortland Rural Services, which provides food, clothing and services to people in need.

“They came out really good,” she said of the stories. “The school has over 160 employees and it used to be called the Cincinnatus Academy.”

Rice plans on being a substitute teacher in her retirement:

“I want to do another book. With a theme: heroes. And I am going to make sure Amy comes back.”