BANNER ELK — Reading a murder mystery this time of year is one thing. Living it is entirely another.

The fifth graders at Banner Elk Elementary School had an opportunity to experience the award-win”Thening novel, “The Westing Game,” in a whole new way.

On the afternoon of October 29, Historic Banner Elk School opened their doors to provide the perfect setting to reenact the novel, not as a play, but as an interactive mystery for students. After being greeted at the front door, students worked in teams to earn clues and interact face-to-face with the 16 suspects from the novel. Students used their knowledge of the book and analytical skills of characters, as well as collaboration with classmates to decipher clues.

School and community volunteers were in full costume and entertained the students by mimicking the suspects’ voices and personalities. Clues led students throughout the Historic Banner Elk School hallways and classrooms, and they eventually ended their hunt in the auditorium. Students were treated to themed snacks from the novel and the grand finale, which included a surprise ending to the mystery in which students were totally shocked!

After their theater experience, students were invited into the Book Exchange for an opportunity to browse for a book of their choice to take home with them.

“It is always my hope that students recall rich literature for a lifetime, rather than for a test. We wanted to create an experience that students would look back on for years to come, and I believe that happened for them,” BES ELA Teacher Molly Rhoades said. “I am grateful to all of the community and school volunteers who came together as a ‘village’ to make a lasting memory for our fifth-grade readers. I appreciate the parents and administration who value and support ‘out of the box’ teaching, and thank you for allowing your children to participate in this memorable event.”

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