The PTO purchased the pumpkins for every classroom at Pine Island Elementary School so the students could decorate their class pumpkin as a character from a book.
Thirteen classes participated in the pumpkin decorating contest held last Thursday.
"First the students selected a book," said Rob Mazzoli, principal of Pine Island Elementary. "Then they read the book and selected a character from the book and finally decorated their pumpkin to look like a character from the book."
Shannon Renz’s second-grade class decorated their winning pumpkin like a character from the book “How I Became a Pirate” by Melinda Long and David Shannon.
There were four judges to select the winner. Principal Mazzoli; Deanna Evans from the public library; Jodi Smith, former teacher at Pine island Elementary; and Ed Franks, editor of the Pine Island Eagle.
"This is very difficult," Mazzoli said. "They're all very good and choosing one over the others isn't easy."
"All of these are remarkable," judge Deanna Evans said. "The students put a lot of work into all of these and choosing one will be hard."
Mazzoli established the scoring system of each judge, choosing three pumpkins: one for first place, one for second place and one for third place.
The pumpkin that received the most 1st place votes was teacher Monica Renz's second grade class. The book, "How I Became a Pirate" by Melinda Long and David Shannon, is a story about a boy named Jeremy Jacob invited to join a pirate crew. Jeremy is thrilled to learn how to be a pirate until he learns that there will be no more bedtime stories and no tucking kids in.
"The students selected this book because last week we went to the play," Renz said. "The kids enjoyed the play and and when it was time to select a book this is what they wanted."
The students created the pumpkin from scratch. They painted the pumpkin and made the teeth, hat and beard. Then glued everything in place.
When the students arrived in the cafeteria, Mazzoli introduced everyone.
"So you saw the play with the pirate and then selected the book, read the book, selected the character you wanted the pumpkin to be and made the pumpkin," Mazzoli said. "All of you did a great job and your pumpkin won first place."
All of the students cheered.
"Everyone did a wonderful job," Mazzoli said. "This has been a lot of fun for the kids and all of us here at Pine Island Elementary. Any time you can encourage kids to read and tie it into a fun project everybody wins."