For Alexandra Simpson, her Katy Perry adventure started with a sixth-grade teacher who read books using funny voices and inspired her to read.
That teacher also led to Alexandra, 15, her sister Mia, 13, and her mom Audra Simpson meeting the pop star in Los Angeles last week.
Among the family’s many trips to Staples office supply store, Alexandra and her mom noticed a poster for a Perry and Staples initiative called “Make Roar Happen,” which seeks to help teachers during the back-to-school season
The program, which donated more than $2.5 million to support teachers and classroom projects across the U.S., included a video lottery for a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles to meet Perry and attend her Sept. 19 concert. The contest encouraged consumers to create videos sharing educational goals, inspirations and impacts.
Audra Simpson’s 27-second video centered on Alexandra, now a sophomore at Hillside High in Durham, talking about her sixth-grade language arts teacher, Diane Moser from Rogers-Herr Middle School.
“She would read all these books with funny voices that made me want to read even more,” Alexandra said on the video. “I thank her for inspiring me to read.”
Earlier this month, a representative of the “Make Roar Happen” initiative called Simpson and said her video had been randomly chosen as the winner. The news, Simpson said, was followed by a lot of screaming and jumping up and down.
At 8 a.m. Sept. 19, Simpson, Alexandra and Mia, an eighth-grader at Rogers-Herr, left the Raleigh-Durham International Airport for Los Angeles.
In California, they checked into the JW Marriott Los Angeles, located in downtown near the Staples Center, where the Perry concert was held. Before the concert, the Simpsons and others spent about 20 minutes talking and taking pictures with Perry.
She was nice, pretty and funny, Alexandra said.
“I told her it was my birthday,” Alexandra said. “She was like ‘Get out.’”
Alexandra, her mom and her sister watched the concert from floor seating. The weekend trip also included a tour of the city, swims in the Marriott’s rooftop pool and mother-daughters moments that they will never forget.
“It was great girl time,” Simpson said.
Meanwhile, Moser is still at Rogers-Herr trying to inspire her students to fall in love with the written word and become life-long readers.
“I do that by reading aloud,” Moser said. “I often do voices so that they understand the story better, and they get the flow, the pacing, the storyline and the joy of the book itself.”
Alexandra’s video confirms that Moser’s strategy is working.
“It really was special to me that that many years later, that is what stood out to her,” Moser said. “I am really tickled.”
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