RACINE — What is more fun than roasting marshmallows and telling stories around the campfire.
Southern students got to experience just that Tuesday night when the elementary gym was transformed into the S’More Fun Reading Campground as part of Southern Literacy Night activities sponsored by Title I funding. Nearly 200 people attended the event for students grades Preschool through third grade. The Title I team signed in guests at the camp headquarters.
Reveille, the camp bugle call was played to awaken the campers and signal the start of the night around the campfire.
Kicking off the camping theme, those in attendance were treated to hot dogs, chips, and Smores. Next, campers and families gathered around the campfire for scary stories read by Title program director Scott Wolfe. Wolfe cited the importance of reading and noted how fun reading can be. He then told a few “scary” stories that kept the students engaged and emerged in the fun-filled atmosphere.
Meg Guinther, Title One teacher and Literary Coach, said, “I think the night went very well. Everyone had a great time. I was glad to see such a great turnout.” Guinther joined K-1 title teacher Jody Norris and Title secretary Vicki Northup in organizing the event. The trio passed along a big “thank you” to the teachers that set up stations for the evening and those who worked over the past few weeks at making the night a success. The trio extended great thanks to PK-3 principal Tricia McNickle. In joining with the camp theme, this group wore Ranger hats shirts to help promote the camping experience.
McNickle said, “It was nice to see the kids smiling and having fun outside the classroom. This was a wonderful experience for our kids. Sometimes school is “work”, but we want kids to know that learning can also be fun.”
Hands-on reading stations were hosted in every classroom. Among the activities were Ducking for Letters, Alphabet Match Game, Rainbow Writing, Roll & Read; Sight Word Ball Toss, Whack a Word, Sight/Spelling Word Practice and Parking Lot, and Magic Spelling Words. Other activities included Spot Light Flash Light Tag, Sight Word Cups, Literacy Kaboom Game, Uno Sight Words, and Survival Skills and First Aid.
Not only did students learn about reading, but also about camping and family fun. Students learned various terminology about camping shelter, clothing, first aid and safety, cooking and appropriate fireside foods, and personal items that make a camping experience more enjoyable.
Clifford the Big Red Dog was a surprise guest and gave a lot of hugs to the youngest campers. Emily Saunders and folks from the Meigs County Library were on hand to promote reading and a photo booth was staged for selfies and pictures with Clifford. Members of the Southern Local National Honor Society, members of Dianne Dunfee’s high school classes, and students promoting public service helped with the event. The Title team praised the students for an outstanding job.
After classroom camps broke for the night, students assembled around the campfire to sing some songs. The night closed with the singing of TAPS. Students learned the words to TAPS and about its origin. The third grade led the singing with accompaniment from Mallory Johnson on the piano. Taps is easily recognizable all over the world, but it is played by the U.S. Army, the Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts to signal the end of the day. It is also played ceremoniously at U. S. military funerals.
A book fair was open throughout the night and during this week to help raise money for the reading programs. The event was sponsored by Southern Local Title I, Box Tops 4 Education, Scholastic Book Fair, Walmart, and Mr. Bee Potato Chips. Throughout the year, Southern collects box tops from various participating food venues and earns money for books and other resources.