The 10th annual edition of Great Seneca Creek Elementary School’s Literacy Night held an extra attraction for the more than 700 students that attend the Germantown school because this year Lewis the kangaroo was there.
Lewis the Kangaroo, who is really a “Joey,” was there so that the students could hold and take a photo with him. The baby ‘roo is an animal member of the Barn Hill Preserve mobile crew which will travel to schools and community events to give education presentations. The crew includes a tarantula, a parrot, a hedgehog, and Red Tail Boa Constrictor, however on Tuesday night, Lewis the Kangaroo was the star.
The school’s staff, led by Media Specialist Lisa Norris has been holding Family Literacy Night since the school opened 10 years ago, and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the event this year’s theme was Animals Alive.
“For the 10th year, we’ve done something special, we have the animals from Barn Hill Preserve with us tonight,” said Norris. “We have never done this before, we had an assembly with Barn Hill Preserve today, and they came and presented an educational program, where the kids learned about all the different animals and different facts about the animals. We talked about how Barn Hill employees and researchers use literacy skills to do their job, so it all tied back to literacy.”
The Barn Hill mobile crew and their animals came back to the school last night so the kids could get a little bit closer to the animals, and touch them and get their picture taken with them. The animals are a big draw. “The animals are really bringing the kids in,” said Norris looking around the school’s cafeteria which was bustling with students and parents taking part in various activities designed to stress the importance of reading and literacy. “We usually have a great turn out, but this is really special.”
The event spans three of the school’s largest rooms, the media center, full of books and students doing activities in the new “Maker Space; the gymnasium where the kangaroo and his friends were, and the all-purpose room, which was set up with laptops and word games for students and parents to participate in activities.
“It is important to celebrate literacy with families,” Great Seneca Creek Principal Scott Curry. “We get the kids during the day, and we talk about literacy and ask the kids to go home and talk about literacy with their parents, but it is few and far between that we actually get to bring families in to do the same activities with the kids that we do during the day. We get moms and dads, and grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles to sit down with kids and teachers to have the same kind of fun and educational experience. It is great to have that time with families to celebrate literacy.”
Norris explained that the event started 10 years ago as a kind of parent show, where parents would read and explain the importance of literacy, and the kids would break off and go into different classrooms for activities. She said that the event, which is hosted by the school and run by the teachers, has evolved into a more conference style. “It is more engaging with the kids. They can move around to different stations and see what all the different activities are, and they can pick and choose which interests them,” said Norris.
“We have the computers set up so that parents and kids can experience our online subscriptions services, which MCPS pays for all the schools to have or that I have purchased with my library funds. They allow the kids to go online and research topics. There are some which will allow students to research animals, which is our theme tonight.”
Norris said parents are often surprised to find out about the online services and the many ways they can help their kids improve their literacy. “Parents tell us that they never realized that by playing Apples to Apples, it could improve their children’s vocabulary. Our point is to get the parents here to see what the kids are doing at school, and make sure they understand that the can continue doing this at home because these are all accessible 24/7 at home as well. An important part of the night is educating the parents to understand how they can support their kids with the resources we provide.”
Top: Lewis the Kangaroo posed for photos with Great Seneca Creek students at the elementary school’s Family Literacy Night on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Video: Lewis the Kangroo hopping around the media center. Video courtesy of Lisa Norris.
Next: The theme of the night was “Animals Alive,” so staff members used animals to help reinforce the importance of reading and literacy.
Next: The Mobile Crew from Barn Hill Preserve, a Delaware-based company providing animal educational experiences, brought out tarantulas and other animals for students to see up close.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.