Did you hear the story of the poor kid whose mom went on a diet after she could no longer zip up the pants of her navy blue suit?
He had to eat — gasp! — baked fish and green beans for dinner. Gone from the house were the candy bars he loved. He’d look at the family cookie jar and think, “What good is a cookie jar if there aren’t any cookies in it?”
“It’s painful to live with a mother on a diet,” he declares sorrowfully. “I’ll bet there are thousands of kids suffering like I am from candy bar withdrawl!”
Seventh-grader Mason Grahek heard the sad tale, “Help! Send Candy Bars!” by Peg Kehret and acted it out Saturday to a second-place finish in his category at the Bakersfield City School District’s annual Oral Language Festival.
Forty-one seventh- and eighth-graders from nine schools competed in the event, in which kids use speaking and drama skills to present written stories. Mason competed in the solo humorous interpretation category; there’s a duo version of that plus solo and duo versions of serious interpretation plus verse choir.
The top four finishers in each event Saturday go on to the county-level competition in late January. Some 300 BCSD elementary school children will face off in December.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch and the kids get a lot out of it,” said judge and second-grade teacher Kathy Kozlowski.
What they get, she said, includes development of reading comprehension and public speaking skills and a boost in self-confidence.
Many Oral Language Festival competitors go on to participate in drama, forensics and mock trial programs, said judge and Bakersfield Elementary Teachers Association President Steve Comstock.
“It gets them ready for really cool academic achievements,”” he said.
The story that Mason, who goes to Cato Middle School, picked out really resonated with him. Yep, his mom, Tasha Grahek, is on a diet — though not as strict a one as the mother in Kehnet’s piece.
It was Mason’s second year competing in the festival.
“I like to talk a lot,” the cute tow-head quipped, “so this is a way to express it.”