The literacy project will provide 700 classrooms in Nevada with an orange bag filled with a textbook set and workbook. All Title I schools in Washoe and Clark counties will benefit from this project, as well as schools in Storey, Nye, Lyon and Carson counties.
“Schools have had so many budget cuts, so we wanted to have a program that would provide materials to schools,” said Deana Boes, president of the Silver State Pioneers. “We applied for a grant about a year ago and we got it.”
Boes said she knew she wanted to focus the grant on childhood literacy.
“We wanted to do a literacy program to help students, especially fourth graders,” Boes said. “Fourth grade is where reading starts and if they don’t know how to read by the end of it, it is easier to lose them and we don’t want that to happen.”
After zeroing in on a focus, she contacted University of Nevada, Reno Literacy Foundation professor Diane Barone. Barone introduced the idea of the workbook and novels, while the Silver State Pioneers provided funding.
“I want kids to love reading,” Barone said. “I found books and a workbook to target fourth graders and I pulled books to support what the teachers are teaching.”
The literacy project kicked off Friday with a Western theme and fun activities for students.
Students were split into groups and rotated between five different stations, all promoting reading and westward expansion. The first station, the “grub station,” provided lunch bags for students to decorate and then fill with raisins, beef jerky, a bottle of water, hard tack (crackers) and three chocolate coins. At other stations, children received books, made bookmarks and cowboy crafts and decorated wanted posters.
“The only criteria I had when coming up with activities for the kickoff was for each kid to receive a book,” Boes said. “We then came up with the grub activity so kids got an idea of what the people ate when they were traveling west.”
For other schools, teachers will present bags in their individual classrooms and there will be a second kickoff event at a school in Carson City.
“Teachers are free to have their own days of activities like these ones in their classrooms,” said Silver State Pioneers Secretary Beth Freemont. “Kids want to have fun reading and learning to read.”
Boes said the Centennial Grant Project will allocate $16,500 and all of it will be spent for materials in each classroom.
Grace Warner Elementary School Principal Larry Kuper believes the set of materials will expand students’ knowledge of history.
“The fourth graders are now studying history so this is another set of materials to help them learn,” Kuper said. “It is not in regular history, so these activities give a wider picture of history in Nevada.”