Where’s Waldo? At Lauderbach

Several schools in the District put their own unique spin on Halloween with literacy-themed parades and events. For example, “Trick or Read” promoted reading at J. Calvin Lauderbach Elementary on Oct. 30. Students and staff dressed as their favorite storybook characters. About 170 parents attended a morning presentation, with the school’s PTA, before breaking out into 2015 Lauderbach IMG_4028reading sessions with their students. Sixth grade students also read to second grade students. They were supported by teacher grade-level teams who dressed in storybook-character theme together (How many “Waldos” are in the photo at left?)

Principal Alex Cortes said the literacy theme helped make the day more than just about candy. Students still were able to don a costume of their own, see school staff in costume—but in a way that brought their favorite characters to life. “We wanted to reinforce the idea of the importance of a parent reading to their child,” Cortes said. “They each get so much out of that experience. And when you have upper grade students reading to primary grade students, that’s powerful. You have sixth graders modeling a behavior, a habit, that we really want to instill in our younger students: the joy of reading.”

It should not be surprising that reading has creeped its way into Halloween activities as a “treat.” Schools are increasingly working with parents and community to stress the importance for a student to read at grade-level. Research shows that children who aren’t reading proficiently by the end of third grade are four times less likely to finish high school on time, one study showed. If they are poor and not reading proficiently, they are 13 times less likely to finish high school. And for children who live in areas of concentrated poverty, the prospects are even more grim.

In Chula Vista, city officials decided to call attention to the issue by working with CVESD and the United Way to develop a “Campaign for Grade-Level Reading” network. The Campaign is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.

Those noble goals were reinforced at Lauderbach, where some students immediately recognized “Amelia Earhart”–a teacher in costume–after reading about her in class. When the student was asked, “What is she famous for?” The student did not hesitate. “She flew across the Atlantic.”

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