Literacy night fosters ‘a fun way of learning’

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Abigail Flamion, 9, of Huntingburg, reads to Southridge High School senior Megan Stutsman during Family Literacy Night at Huntingburg Elementary on Tuesday. "I love reading to kids. I used to read to my little sister all of the time," Megan said. "But she asked if she could read to me instead." 


HUNTINGBURG — Second-grader Abigail Flamion of Huntingburg excitedly ran the halls of Huntingburg Elementary Tuesday night eager to collect prizes at Southwest Dubois Family Literacy Night. Her most prized reward was a book called “Shark Lady: The Adventures of Eugenie Clark,” a biography by Ann McGovern.

Flamion loves to read, and she loves sharks. She said she couldn’t wait to get home and start reading the new book to her little brother, Garrett.

Huntingburg Elementary has been hosting Family Literacy Night for longer than most of the staff can remember. Literacy Coach and Title I Coordinator Wendi Nurrenbern estimates the event is at least 15 years old. Although each year is a little bit different activities wise, the goal remains the same: to get kids and their families excited about reading.

This year, family literacy night took on a carnival theme with teachers designing different games for kids to play and practice their reading skills.

Student Council members helped run the games. Fifth-graders Maddie Wright and Mya Blackgrave, both of Huntingburg, ran Sight Word Twister. To win, players had to be able to maintain their balance through four Twister moves and be able to read the word written on each dot their hand or foot touched.

The girls agreed the games do help students learn to read.

“It’s a fun way of learning,” Wright said. “You get to learn while playing a game.”

Huntingburg Elementary preschooler Jace Gogel races sixth-grader Braden Rasche to the finish line while playing hockey with letters during Family Literacy Night at the school on Tuesday. The kids were tasked to spell words with labeled letter bean bags. 

Other games included a Race to Spell hockey, Dr. Seuss Bingo, literacy Kahoot and a book walk. The evening also included an art show where students showcased their art from the year, an opportunity for students to read aloud in English and Spanish, a book fair, a storybook walk by the Huntingburg Library and a story theater with shows every half hour.

“It’s just a lot of people coming together to make the event,” said Yuliana Leon, a fifth-grade Student Council member who helped run the welcome booth.

The U.S. enjoys a high literacy rate, but there is still room for improvement. According to Room 241, an education blog from Concordia University-Portland, roughly 30 million U.S. adults cannot read or write. Children of illiterate parents are likely to be illiterate themselves or struggle academically, and 75 percent of prison inmates are low literacy, according to studies cited on Room 241.

Literacy rates also tend to be lower among immigrant and low income populations. Southwest Dubois serves a large number of both of those populations.

Family Literacy Night is one way educators at Southwest Dubois help make sure their students don’t become a statistic.

“The goal is to foster family engagement and teach families about the importance of literacy,” said Curriculum Director Melissa Boeglin. “And hopefully the students get excited about reading.”

Huntingburg Elementary fourth-grader Madilyn Schwartz looks up for her next direction while playing Sight Word Twister during Family Literacy Night at the school on Tuesday.
Holland Elementary fourth-grader Laney Bardwell, left, second-grader Campbell Marshall, and third-grader Kate Boeglin, hang out between shows inside of one of the stage props during Family Literacy Night at Huntingburg Elementary on Tuesday. The girls were helping participants at the storybook theatre shows read lines and act out "The Three Little Pigs."
Huntingburg Elementary second-grader Liam Kaeck gets bingo during Family Literacy Night at the school on Tuesday. "I think its fun that I get to be a storybook character." Liam said.

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