Student wins award for book
Rachel Bogard, along with 180 other students at Tonganoxie Elementary School, has become a published writer.
But the difference for Bogard, a sixth-grader, is that her book has made it to national competitions. Moreover, Bogard qualified for a $250 college scholarship. Bogard is the daughter of Jack and Jo Bogard.
Gail Kiefer, a second-grade teacher, read last year about a Topeka book publisher that works with elementary schools to help students write, design and publish individual books.
"I called Topeka and got all the information, and they sent out sample books," Kiefer said. "I sent letters to the other teachers here, and they signed up."
When it came time to writing books, the children prepared.
It was a daunting task, with students writing in their finest handwriting their final drafts on one side of a page, and drawing the artwork on the back side.
Especially challenging were the early grades, in which books were compilations of class writings and art. Because of the way these books were designed students would draw their pictures on the back of someone else's text. If a mistake was made, the work on those two pages had to start over.
Bogard, the only Tonganoxie student whose book made it to nationals, said she didn't know what made the judges notice her book.
Perhaps, she said, it stood out because of the topic.
It's a story about receiving a Yorkshire Terrier for an early Christmas present 1 1/2 years ago.
"My dad told me to go get my dirty clothes and put them downstairs in the laundry room," Bogard said. "And there was this cute little Yorkshire Terrier there. She was so tiny when I bent down to pick her up, she actually fell out of my hands."
She named the dog Sweetpea.
Just three months later, when Bogard came home from school one day, she learned that Sweetpea had died, having stuck her head out the car door just as it was closing.
"We were all crying for a long time," she said.
But after an Internet search, her mother quickly found a new puppy.
"That night we went to Kansas City, Missouri, and we got another Yorkshire Terrier," Bogard said.
The new puppy, Pepper, has now been with the family for more than a year.
Her teachers, Lori Bottenfield and Janet Burnett, encouraged Rachel to write about her dogs.
The children turned their completed books in before spring break, and last week saw the results of their work, in hard cover books.
When Kiefer and Tammie George, assistant principal, presented an award to Bogard, tears came to her eyes.
"I was surprised that I beat everybody, that I was picked," Bogard said. "I didn't know I could do that."
And Bogard said she learned a valuable lesson:
"I learned you should always do your best because you never know if you're going to do well, or if somebody will think you do well."