Upon walking into Willow Creek Elementary's auditorium, I was blasted by the sound of 525 students screaming and cheering.
“We are finishing a reading challenge called Reading Is Magical. The reward at the end was a show by Jason Bishop, a world renowned illusionist,” said Fleetwood School Districtintervention specialistSandy Hawkins.
Students were more than enthusiastic about a magic show on Nov. 1 by Bishop, a Fleetwood School District alumnus and resident of Blandon.
According to a release, “his show features exclusive large illusions, award winning sleight of hand and “close-up” magic that is captured live and projected onto LCD screens for the audience to have a clear view of every detail. Bishop is currently the only illusionist in the U.S. to tour with the rare Double Levitation, Plasma illusion and Op-Art.” The Jason Bishop Show also performed at the Santander Performing Arts Center on Nov. 2.
Fleetwood School Districtintervention specialistsHawkins, Tracy Achenbach and Denise Schartel were on a cruise to Bermuda in July and saw Bishop's magic show. During the show he talked about going to school in Fleetwood and reading magic books from the library. The next day they saw Kim, member of the show, in the elevator and they talked about how they teach in Fleetwood, discovering that Bishop lives in Blandon, explained Hawkins.
“After the cruise, I got to thinking how great it would be if he would come to our school to do a show in connection with one of our literacy challenges,” said Hawkins.
Willow Creek Elementary students committed to read 100 minutes at home each week starting Oct. 23. Students who met the challenge were rewarded with“VIP” seating at his show, Nov. 1. There were 195 students who read 100 minutes a week, said Hawkins.
“All of our students here are readers and we wanted to reward them,” she said.
Their goal of the reading challenge is to encourage students to read at home with their families.
“Having something exciting like this really gets them motivated to read,” said Hawkins.
Besides performing, Bishop, who has a degree from Kutztown University, also talked about how he became an illusionist. When he was young, he read a lot of magic books that he borrowed at the library.
“I was just always interested in magic,” he said. “I have to know how to do this, I need this in my life and so I pursued that and I never looked back. It's what I do everyday, it's a passion.”
Bishop recommended students read books about what interests them, on what captivates them, and maybe it will become a career or a hobby; his main message was to read and “to follow your passion.”
Reading is important, he said, noting there is so much in books that cannot be found online, especially relating to magic.
He enjoyed returning to his school district and for the chance to perform near his home in Blandon.
“The kids' responses were cool, they're very excited... screaming and cheering,” said Bishop. “I like that.”
Bishop has shows coming up in Paris, Australia and Alaska, “so we travel a lot but we always come back to Berks County.”