Kick-off assembly

20 September

Briceville School
in Coal Creek, TN

View hundreds of photos
from the event at: 



Students read books and pass a comprehension test with their teacher
to earn points to "purchase" prizes.  Their reading and other studies improve!!

Funding for the prizes was provided by Schnabel Engineering and CCWF

Watch the video of the curtains opening to reveal the prizes!

CLICK for The Courier News article


Why did Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank take time out of her busy schedule to attend Briceville Elementary School’s Engineering Better Readers Assembly today?  It’s because Briceville students are future leaders of the county, state, and Nation.  Inspiring them to become avid readers is how we prepare them for those future roles.   

Briceville students learned about the EBR program at a kick-off assembly where John Crockett, the daddy of Davy Crockett, arrived from the past to give students a lesson on American history. 


Best question a little girl asked of Barry while he
was dressed as historic character John Crockett today: 

"Why are you wearing girls' pants?"
(Barry had on black leggings!)

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank and
John Crockett (Davy Crockett's daddy)
AKA Barry Thacker, PE, in character

Group shot with stage-full of prizes in the background.
The students get to read books to earn points to "purchase" prizes!

Briceville School teachers Loren Forgety &
Melissa Fleming with "John Crockett"


After opening the curtain to display the prizes students can earn, first-grade teacher Melissa Fleming explained how the program works.  Students read books and pass comprehension tests, for which they are awarded points.  Students save their points to purchase prizes, which include Xbox, Play Station 4, tablets, Nintendo DS, iPods, Legos Minecraft, scooters, and balls.

Barry Thacker arrived in a cloud of fog as the historic character John
Crockett.  The children clapped and yelled to help he return from the past.

4th & 5th graders sang "Yankee Doodle" as part of the history lesson

Excerpts from John Crockett’s narrative during the kick-off of Engineering Better Readers

I understand you fourth and fifth graders visited the Museum of East Tennessee History two weeks ago where you saw Davy Crockett’s rifle.    

In case you haven’t guessed, my name is John Crockett, Davy’s dad.  I’m an American frontiersman who fought in the Revolutionary War.  In 1777, my parents were killed in a raid led by the Cherokee War Chief Dragging Canoe in upper East Tennessee.  During the American Revolution, the Cherokees allied with the British against the American Patriots.  I was a ranger, who left home for months at a time to fight the British or the Cherokees, but would return to check on my family.  My parents were killed during a time when I was gone fighting the British.

In 1780, the British came up with a plan to end the American Revolution.  They had fought George Washington to a stalemate in the north, so decided to invade the south.  Their plan was to organize Loyalists—Americans who were loyal to the British Crown—to come north and surround General Washington’s Continental Army.  It looked like a brilliant plan when the British under General Cornwallis captured Charleston, SC in May 1780. 

East Tennessee settlers became threatened on two fronts—from Dragging Canoe’s Cherokees on the west and from the British on the east.  Some of us stayed home to defend against the Cherokees, while others traveled over the Appalachian Mountains to thwart the advancement of Lord Cornwallis.  Because our homes were on the other side of the Appalachian Mountains, the British called us the Overmountain Men and they referred to East Tennessee as the “Hornet’s Nest.” 

Cornwallis got a big boost in August 1780 when the southern branch of the Continental Army was defeated at Camden, South Carolina.  Lord Cornwallis then organized his army into three prongs where the main army was supported by two roving detachments.  One was led by Major Patrick Ferguson and the other by Lt. Col. Banister Tarleton. 

The British were reluctant to move north because it would expose their left flank to the Overmountain Men, so Ferguson sent us a letter that threatened us with fire and sword if we did not stop our opposition to British rule.  We knew that if we left our homes, we might be attacked by Dragging Canoe’s Cherokees, but if we sat still, we risked being attacked by Dragging Canoe and Ferguson.  Nancy Ward, the beloved woman of the Cherokee who was our friend said her cousin Dragging Canoe was off causing mischief elsewhere, so we decided to attack Ferguson before he could cross the mountains to attack us. 

We sent out word to the other Patriots to set signal fires on mountain tops whenever Ferguson’s army was spotted heading in our direction.  After lighting fires to warn others, we set out for Sycamore Shoals in Elizabethton, TN.  From there we marched south to intercept Ferguson’s army. 

We had no master plan for attacking Ferguson, but one of our leaders, Col. Isaac Shelby, gave us these instructions in preparation for the battle:  “When we encounter the enemy, don’t wait for a word of command.  Let each of you be your own officer, and do the very best you can…If in the woods, shelter yourselves and give them Indian play; advance from tree to tree… and killing and disabling all you can, but don’t shoot until you can see the whites of their eyes” 

That’s what we did.  We surrounded Ferguson’s soldiers on Kings Mountain.  Whenever a group of us penetrated a section of Ferguson’s line, he would blow a silver whistle to summon his reserve troops who would mount a bayonet charge.  We followed Col. Shelby’s instructions and would retreat down the hill when faced with British steel while others attacked the line.  Another burst from Ferguson’s whistle would summon the British reserves to leave us and return to defend another part of the battle line. 

That whistle served as motivation for the British troops and discouragement for us.  When we gained a foothold on top of the mountain, we howled like Indians as a signal to others to attack in unison.  We silenced that whistle when Darling Jones shot Major Ferguson from his horse with his rifle he called Sweet Lips.  We then routed the British, killing half of them and taking the rest prisoner.

Darling Jones got Major Ferguson’s pistol as a souvenir.  Col. Cleveland’s horse had been shot, so he got Major Ferguson’s horse, but I got the best prize of al—Major Ferguson’s whistle.   

When word of our victory reached Gen. Cornwallis, he pursued us to retrieve his soldiers we held as prisoners, but we were too quick for him and made it to safety over the mountains.    General Cornwallis abandoned his pursuit because South Carolina militia under the command of the Swamp Fox, Col. Francis Marion, was harassing his right flank under Col. Tarleton and disrupting his supply lines from Charleston.

Our actions and those of Col. Marion gave the Continental Army time to organize under Generals Nathanial Greene and Daniel Morgan.  At the Cowpens, General Morgan defeated Col. Tarleton, forcing General Cornwallis to retreat, eventually to Yorktown.  That’s where Generals Washington, Lafayette, Knox, Lincoln, and Greene trapped him until he surrendered, leading to the end of the American Revolution. 

How do we remember those who fought for American independence?  One way is by naming Tennessee Counties after them.   One of the counties in West Tennessee is named Crockett.  It’s not named after me, but my son Davy, but that’s a story for another day. 

How else do we honor those Patriots?  Celebrating the Fourth of July and reading about their exploits in books so we can teach those stories to our offspring.  . 

Fourth graders and fifth graders then performed the popular marching song from the American Revolution, Yankee Doodle Dandy.  The song was initially written by the British to poke fun at what they considered backward Americans—Yankee Doodle Dandies.  We considered it a badge of honor to march to battle signing the words of that song.

Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony
He stuck a feather in his hat
And called it macaroni


Yankee Doodle, keep it up
Yankee Doodle dandy
Mind the music and the step
and with the girls be handy!

Father and I went down to camp
Along with Captain Gooding
And there we saw the men and boys
As thick as hasty pudding.


And there was Captain Washington
And gentle folks about him
They say he's grown so tarnal proud
He will not ride without them.



View hundreds of photos
from the event at: 

Watch the video of the curtains
opening to reveal the prizes!

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