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South Jordan Journal

Eastlake celebrates community, service during literacy week

Aug 01, 2019 10:24AM ● By Julie Slama

During Eastlake Elementary School’s literacy week, Mayor Dawn Ramsey tells students to have fun with reading as her family holds annual events with their favorite characters and books. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Family traditions can be centered around books, whether it’s summer party with old-fashioned lemonade that pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder made or reading “Cat in the Hat” on March 2 for the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

That was a message Mayor Dawn Ramsey told Eastlake Elementary School students during their literacy week. Her family is slated to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday July 31 with a cake like Hagrid made and with chocolate-covered gummy bears and butter beer.

“We read the books, watch the movies and some years even dress up,” she said. “It’s fun to take time to read for yourself and as a family. Reading doesn’t have to be boring. If you really want to make an effort to acquire a love of reading, it will happen.”

Ramsey, who said her family still annually reads “Best Christmas Pageant Ever” as well as “Charlotte’s Web,” encouraged students to read.

“Take the time to read; take the opportunity for yourself because you will learn so much,” she said, adding that Daybreak’s new library is under construction, which will make it more convenient for Eastlake students to check out books.

Ramsey was one of eight guest speakers to celebrate the school’s literacy week, which had the theme, “Strong Communities.” Guest speakers at the assembly had a chance to read to the students one of their favorite stories as well as share their roles in the community. 

South Jordan Police Detective Scott Russell said he was glad he could share in the week’s celebration and give them a message about his role in schools.

“I chose to work in schools and like being a part of what is going on,” he said. “Sometimes as kids approach middle school, it can be the hardest part of life, but if they can meet me and see me in elementary school, then they will know they have someone rooting for them. We want to be able to read, learn and feel safe in schools.”

City Councilman Jason McGuire said he appreciated the opportunity for youth to connect with those in the city.

“This celebration is giving our youth more interaction with city staff and others who make an impact in our community,” he said. “It’s helping them connect and develop more pride for their community, and I hope they take away the importance of literature. Understanding and reading are critical in life. It helps them all to become great, caring leaders.”

Other guest speakers included a firefighter, the city staff members and a member of the armed forces. After the assembly, students gave each speaker a pile of thank you cards for being a part of their community.

Parent volunteer Lisette McEwan coordinated the weeklong event.

“My hope is to create awareness, knowledge, curiosity and a desire and willingness to help our community become stronger, kinder, better and have each student know that they matter,” she said. “And that each act is like one puzzle piece, one block, but combined it is powerful, beautiful and inviting, and contagious.”

She said it is similar to the world map that was displayed showing students’ acts of neighborly kindness they posted on sticky notes that week.

“[I] organized activities to promote and help the students think and actively participate in building a strong community one small act at a time, through reading, writing, spying [or taking a close look], thanking, doing kind neighborly acts,” she said. “Knowledge is power. Learning and reading brings knowledge; and acting on it with kindness brings about the best communities.”

During the week, students could take part in a variety of activities. There was a book walk with stories displayed for students to read and answer questions afterward; a library scavenger hunt; an “I Spy” picture game; and additional community guests who read in the classrooms.

“[The] PTA sponsors literacy week to get students excited about reading,” McEwan said. “I hope students have the opportunity to read a book or a genre they have not read before. Often, books will pique curiosity, and students will want to read similar books or a series of books they have been exposed to. I also want our students to feel the satisfaction of doing kind deeds for others and to learn to appreciate the people in our community who offer service every day.”