An endless line of cars snaked its way through the Cedar Way Elementary School campus Thursday as faculty and staff kicked off literacy week by handing out free books to students.
Balloons, bubbles and music welcomed students and families as they made their way to the front of the school where they were greeted by faculty and staff, some of whom were dressed in a way that “made them happy,” waving and cheering as part of the school’s Drive Through Happiness event.
Organized by the school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), the week-long event encourages students and their families to read more between April 26-30. During the event, students received a free book according to the their grade level and a goody bag. In addition to promoting reading, the event aimed to connect with students and their families after more than a year of remote learning, said Principal Chris Lindblom.
“One of the hardest parts about this year is we haven’t been able to connect with our families as much,” he said. “Our teachers have done a great job with creative learning even though it’s remote (but) it’s great to have these events where we can connect.”
Cedar Way is a Title 1 school, meaning it receives federal funds to provide supplemental educational assistance to ensure that all students have fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high quality education. Schools are selected based on the average number of students enrolled in the district’s free-and-reduced meal program. Cedar Way is one of 13 schools in the district with a Title 1 designation.
Ideally, students enrolled in Title 1 schools are tested in kindergarten or first grade to see if they qualify for supplemental learning. Though it’s not uncommon for older elementary students to be tested for the program, Title 1 teacher JaneAnne Wilder said they try to identify eligible students as soon as possible.
“If kids don’t read well by the end of third grade, they will get farther and farther and farther behind in a critical life skill,” she said.
–By Cody Sexton