Oak Harbor Reading Night a hit with families

Oak Harbor Elementary’s Fall Reading Night Oct. 25 was attended by about 350 people. - Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor Elementary’s Fall Reading Night Oct. 25 was attended by about 350 people.
— image credit: Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

With time running out on an eventful evening, it pained Lynne Tolson to have to put her foot down.

But she couldn’t see Lenita Forster performing another round of stomping and clomping dressed as a scarecrow during a story reenactment, so she had to turn a small group of parents and children away.

“I think we’re done for the night,” said Tolson, a kindergarten teacher at Oak Harbor Elementary School. “We’ve already done it four times and look at poor Mrs. Nita.”

Forster was a bit redfaced and sweaty after pulling off her pumpkin mask. But the retired para-educator wouldn’t have missed Oak Harbor Elementary’s Fall Reading Night for the world.

She and Tolson were busy capturing children’s imagination on a night when reading and parent participation were celebrated.

The Oct. 25 event was a hit with about 350 people attending.

“It was a good way for our families to connect,” principal Dorothy Day said.

Organizers of the event wanted to make it fun for kids, providing six activity stations and free pizza.

“They just love to do school activities and see their teachers participate in a little bit different atmosphere,” said Renata Falconer, who brought her two children.

“I’d get in trouble if I didn’t go,” joked Naomi Snyder, who brought her daughter.

Fall Reading Night was funded through the federal Title I program designed to improve the education of disadvantaged students. The school also holds a math event later in the school year.

The events are intended to help facilitate parental involvement in their child’s academic schooling, said Jennifer Endecott, Oak Harbor Elementary’s Title I teacher.

Smart boards were used to visually lead children through stories. Oak Harbor Elementary staff and literacy coaches helped with the event. The Oak Harbor School District has literacy coaches assigned to elementary schools, funded by a three-year Department of Defense education grant.

Children visited stations that centered on reading aloud, nonfiction, smart board fun, an art project and writing a story. After each activity, kids got a pumpkin stamp.

Snyder said her daughter Gina, a second grader in Susan Jensen’s class, wouldn’t let her miss the event. She’s grown to love reading after the family’s commitment.

“Her daddy has read books to her every night for three years now,” Snyder said of husband Jason. “Ten to 15 minutes and she’s knocked out."

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