The more hurried I am, the more behind I get. A couple visits to Evergreen Elementary School come as an example. One was late last year but seems like yesterday. The next was last week and seemed like it was yesterday. Both involved reading and literacy, and my photography and remarks from kids and adults involved. Each was exhilarating.
“Reading Is FUNdamental” comes up three times annually at Evergreen. No matter how many times I’ve been involved with the delightful exercise, I can’t get over the enthusiasm with which the kids at all grade levels respond.
One at a time, classes go to the library, and each youngster radiates excitement and apprehension. They get a book of their very own to take home with them.
A gold-plated Lego set wouldn’t mean half as much.
New to me was the school’s “Literacy Night.” The gym was tumultuously roiling with a tsunami of kids, volunteers, parents, staff and excitement. There was also pizza.
It was learning, reading and playing intellectually inspiring games. If smiles and children’s laughter could be turned into money, we’d never worry about funding education again.
“What an evening!” Evergreen principal Dennis Nugent said. “It was gratifying to see our gym full of Evergreen students and their families as they took part in our annual Literacy Night. Our teachers work hard to assure that these evenings are fun, informative and provide parents with ideas about how they can support their students’ academic progress.
“When parents attend these events with their children, they send a strong message that school is important to the whole family.”
About the RIF program, Fourth-grader Ashley Phillips said, “I mostly like the new books and the fact that you get to read to adults. RIF keeps kids learning at their grade level.”
Classmate Jon Steele liked the RIF theme, “Vote for Books!”
“I voted for ‘Go Go America’ because it’s a funny book,” Steele said.
“I chose the book ‘Hi Fly Guy’ because it’s funny!” added Larkyn Carlson, a first-grader
Susan Stanley, also a first-grader, said she really liked the book “Frog Girl” because of the illustrations.
PTA treasurer Marcia Gibbons said the masterful decorations by Betty McCorde and Sue Surratt drew the kids in.
“As a longterm RIF volunteer, I’ve noticed the improved reading skills of the students throughout all grades,” Gibbons said.
“I loved the decorations!” fourth-grader Nelson Mora said. “The volunteers were very nice, and I loved the books.”
“There were stars all over!” first-grader Mckayla Carr added. “My favorite book was ‘The Little House on the Prairie.’ ”
To classmate Tristan Miller, “Frog Girl can turn into a frog. That’s why I voted for it.”
Another first-grader, Fabian Torres, picked the book “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Trout” and voted for “Europe’s Most Amazing.”
For RIF, the main entryway and library were decked out in red, white and blue, and a large banner read “Vote for Books!”
Nugent, the principal, said the library is filled with community members who come to participate.
“Once a student selects a book, the student finds a volunteer adult who will read the book to them or who will listen while the student reads the book to the adult,” he said. “It all adds up to a great deal of excitement and sends a strong message that books are great and that reading books can be fun.”
While it’s an all-school event, Nugent singled out three Evergreen staff members — librarian Robin Roe, office manager Betty McCord and health room technician Susan Kingsbury — who are essential to creating the opportunity for students.
“Literacy Night was cool!” third-grader Arianne Harmic said. “I got to choose a free book, and my favorite part was the button station.”
That’s where kids got to make pin-on buttons with their choice of theme.
As a chorus, para-educator Tracy Coonan and Title I teacher Susan Brummitt chimed, “We had a great turnout! What a wonderful way for parents to view and share their children’s writing.”
First-grader Kyleigh Helland chose the book “Sarah Plain and Tall,” “because my mom also read this book when she was a kid!”
Classmate Fabian Torres “loved attending with my papa and sister Raina and sharing the book I made, ‘The Day after Christmas,’ a story about our trip to Ocean Shores. I loved making my bear cub button.”
“I got to share a book I made plus get a free book,” said Katie Soucie, a fifth-grader. “I loved the crafts table.”
Fourth-grader Kendra Hunzaker liked hanging out with her friends and visiting with teachers.
“Literacy Night encouraged me to read more,” Hunzaker said. “I won a raffle basket with great creative books.”
Madison Beck, a second-grader, had fun her mom and sister.
“My favorite part of Literacy Night was the make and take book, which I titled ‘The Book Mark,’ ” Beck said.
Rewarding events!Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for The Peninsula Gateway. He can be reached at 253-884-3319 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.