By Vienna Cordova, AmeriCorps Member serving at Beech Street Elementary School Co-sponsored by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.
Literacy Night is a night where the entire Beech Street community can come together to support and promote children’s literacy, both at school and at home. Our City Year Beech Street team coordinates the event with assistance of our school’s administration. Even with all hands on deck for the success of this event, a night like this needs someone at the forefront of it all. This individual was my teammate Bryan Costa. Bryan is a first year AmeriCorps member and is also our Literacy Coordinator at Beech Street. One of Bryan’s many responsibilities consisted of delegating many of the smaller tasks that the event demanded as well as checking in with each team member who was required to create a station. Every station consisted of an activity that would help students build upon their literacy skills in a fun and creative way. These stations were also designed to fit into our overarching theme for the entire night, which was taking a trip to the beach.
Our stations ranged from battleship on a boat by reading words on a grid opposite of their opponent in attempts to sink each other's ship, to students sitting down to complete beach themed worksheets intended to strengthen their reading comprehension. Other stations included an obstacle course which was ran by a City Year Alum, Literacy Bingo, an Antonym and Synonym station, a station where students had to recognize words on sight, and even a read-along station. The station that I created for Literacy Night combined students writing their favorite beach memory and decorating their sand castle sheet. Because the stations needed to be accessible to all the students at Beech Street, the younger students who participated had a prompt to help them along. One of my many joys of the night came from watching the students who came to my station positively reflect on their beach memories and practice putting those thoughts into words. There were over 112 students who came to Beech Street’s Literacy Night and each and every child in attendance put so much thought and consideration into crafting and creating these sentences. Being able to help reinforce the importance of reading was an experience I truly cherish.
One of the goals of the night was to have students complete a “reading kit,” with a unique part at each station. Students who completed every station were able to select a prize at the end of the night. The prizes included school supplies such as notebooks, coloring utensils, and a number of books that students could bring home. Another prize was the option to choose a ticket that would allow them to eat lunch with their favorite City Year. The tickets were surprisingly desired, and I was honored to know that there were so many students who found our presence in the school so important.
All in all, this experience was truly incredible. Seeing my students who struggle with reading and writing so excited to practice their skills was a true joy for me. The Beech team did amazing work to pull the night off, and every minute was completely worth it when we saw the looks of joy on our kids’ faces.
Jake playing with student at Literacy Night.
Uma with life vest playing at the "beach" at Beech's Literacy Night