Forest Oaks students celebrate school’s first hamster pet

Students in the Forest Oaks Book Club hold up their copies of "The World According to Humphrey" during a celebration Dec. 4. Also pictured (far left) is library media specialist Jill Haglund holds the school's pet hamster, Mrs. Humphrey. (Reporter photo/Emily Sparacino)

Students in the Forest Oaks Book Club hold up their copies of “The World According to Humphrey” during a celebration Dec. 4. Also pictured (far left) is library media specialist Jill Haglund holds the school’s pet hamster, Mrs. Humphrey. (Reporter photo/Emily Sparacino)

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

CHELSEA – Forest Oaks Elementary School’s pet hamster named Humphrey ran on her wheel as dozens of students in the school’s book club celebrated finishing their first book Dec. 4.

About 300 students in the newly formed Forest Oaks Book Club–along with parents, teachers and community leaders–read Betty G. Birney’s “The World According to Humphrey,” which recounts the adventures and life lessons of a classroom hamster named Humphrey.

“Boys and girls, I’m so proud of you for joining our first Forest Oaks Book Club,” Forest Oaks Principal Dr. Resia Brooks said to the students. “This is so exciting because we get to have a party about books. This is very, very special.”

The purpose of the book club is to “create a community of readers” and to “have students interacting with the same book to develop discussion and excitement,” Brooks said in a Nov. 25 interview.

In the beginning stages of forming the club, Brooks said Forest Oaks Library media specialist Jill Haglund decided to purchase a pet hamster for the school and name it Humphrey in honor of the book’s furry main character.

When Haglund asked the students if Humphrey had made them happy, they emphatically replied “yes.”

“Me too,” Haglund said.

During the celebration, students ate cookies provided by Bud’s Best Cookies and answered trivia and discussion questions about the book.

“I liked the part where Ms. Mac comes back,” third grader Lydia Griffin said.

Third grader Lydia Wheeler and second grader Jackson Hardin said they liked reading about Mr. Brisbane chasing Humphrey around the living room.

“I loved the parts when Humphrey was telling us what Ms. Mac did when she took him home,” Hardin said.

Numerous children raised their hands when asked if they had added a hamster to their Christmas lists for Santa this year.

Nearly 20 students won treats in a drawing, and all students received a bookmark as they left the celebration.

“Everything went well,” Brooks said. “It was great seeing the kids excited about the book, and they were able to share some of the lessons that were taught in the book. They were thrilled that Humphrey was here.”