The first day of February will be the 100th day of the 100th year for the Davis School District.
Thus, on Feb. 1, students, faculty and staff will set aside one hour to celebrate not only the centennial of the second largest school district in the state, but also what is arguably the foundation of all learning — the ability to read.
At approximately 10 a.m., according to Vickie Jessen, chair of the events committee for the Davis School District Centennial, everyone in Davis County is invited to participate in a districtwide Read-A-Thon, to spend 60 minutes reading a book, with the goal of 60 pages per person.
“Each school does a one-hour period. Every employee. Every student. Every bus driver. Every cook. Everyone is collectively brought together for something that everyone is celebrating,” said Jessen, who is also principal of Creekside Elementary in Kaysville.
“We have 67,000 students and about 6,500 employees, and we multiplied that number by 60. If they could get 60 pages in an hour then we could surpass 4 million pages. That is our goal, 4 million pages of reading.”
Jessen emphasized, the concern is not so much the number within the goal, but that “we are all collectively participating and celebrating literacy.”
Teachers will read to students, students to one another, parents at home can read to their preschoolers, or children with reading challenges can listen via headphones. School employees are encouraged to stop and read. Community members and businesses are encouraged to join as well. If 60 straight minutes is too much, even a few minutes of reading, she said, counts toward the overall goal.
To report minutes and pages that day, contact a local school librarian or Suzanne Cottrell, centennial celebration coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-402-5173.
Bonnie Flint, director of Davis Reads, couldn’t be more thrilled with the concept of a Read-A-Thon. Davis Reads is a community organization, sponsored by the Davis School District, which supports and promotes reading and literacy.
Reading, said Flint, is one of the main factors in being successful in school and in life.
“I hope the Read-A-Thon accomplishes the same goal we have at Davis Reads, that is to not just talk about, but to also show through demonstration that reading is of paramount importance to us in the Davis School District. We love (reading) so much we do it to celebrate.”
Flint hopes the whole community participates.
“We would be thrilled that around the community that day we’d see people in offices with a book reading at their desks and sharing what they’re reading with others and talking about it. I think reading builds so much community.”
Wendy and Chad Thompson of Syracuse have seen the benefits of reading in their own home. They have five children ages 15 down to just a few weeks old and almost nightly the family reads together. Their library is diverse — children’s books, the classics including Charles Dickens and scriptures.
“I think it helps a bond grow between parents and the child,” Wendy said, speaking of the comfort and security her children find in family reading time. “Every night was a nighttime story. They couldn’t go without their story.”
One of their favorites, she said, is a Sesame Street book, “Happy and Sad, Grouchy and Glad.” And its pages are falling out.
In particular, she spoke of how reading helped in the development of their oldest, Derek, who was born with Apraxia, a communication disorder. “It’s helped him in his confidence. Reading to him has helped him so he’s not scared of the words and letters. He’s comfortable with books and likes books.”
Derek, who uses a computer augmentative device for communication, plays the piano and sings in his LDS ward choir. A freshman at Syracuse High School, he enjoys programming and making home videos.
Those are the successes Vickie Jessen hopes to hear more about within Davis School District. In fact, with Feb. 2 being Dr. Seuss Day in schools, Jessen said each principal of each school that reaches the goal of the Read-A-Thon will get a Dr. Seuss hat. “Hopefully we are going to see a lot of principals wearing those little Dr. Seuss hats.”
Julie Dockstader Heaps is a community volunteer on the school district’s centennial committee and a freelance journalist living in Syracuse. For more about the Centennial Celebration, go to www.davis.k12.ut.us/dsd/centennial