STUDENTS AT one Nass Valley school are tackling a mountain of reading material with 55 of them gearing up to read 750 books in a challenge lasting three months.
The reading challenge is taking place at Alvin A. McKay Elementary in Greenville (Laxgalts’ap) and is set to kick off tomorrow which has been declared nationally as Family Literacy Day.
School principal Tom Wilkinson said this is a huge challenge for students as books compete with the many entertainment distractions available today.
The idea came to him when he thought back to his own time as an elementary student and the reading projects undertaken then.
“I wanted to bring back a love of reading,” Wilkinson said. He adds that the goal is to plant a seed of genuine love of reading, not just reading because of school.
Once students complete a book they will post a coloured index card on a school mural which will grow to read “I love books” with a symbol of a heart representing the word love.
The initiative is in conjunction with Ksi Xy’ans Daycare Head Start and the local village government.
There will be a launch party at the school at 1 p.m. Jan. 27 where the school will be closed for the afternoon.
The school is hoping to kick off with a performance from a local dance group and the Ksi Xy’ans Head Start will provide “brain food.”
Teachers and community members will make individual pledges on what they will do if the students achieve their goal.
The pledges range from wearing a fake mustaches, to dying hair pink.
They will be revealed at the launch party.
Wilkinson himself has pledged to shave his head if the children achieve the reading goal.
Wilkinson plans to keep the initiative going past the launch by reaching out to the community.
“As the three month challenge goes on I want to keep the energy there,” Wilkinson said.
He has plans of organizing a community-wide “no TV” night where families will be encouraged to read instead.
The village library will help the effort by staying open in the evening four nights a week.
Within the school there will be the creation of more reading stations, and elders and parents will be invited in to read with the students.
Updates on the progress of the students will be sent out via a community newsletter.
The Alvin A. McKay Elemntary School is one of the schools making up the Nisga’a School District.
The school is named after Alvin McKay, a prominent Nisga’a educator who was involved in the creation of the school district and in promoting the settlement of the Nisga’a land claim.