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South Jordan Journal

Jordan Ridge builds readers, one brick at a time

Jun 01, 2020 12:11PM ● By Julie Slama

Jordan School District Supt. Anthony Godfrey reads “The Three Little Super Pigs” to students during Jordan Ridge Elementary’s literacy night. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]m

At Jordan Ridge Elementary’s literacy night, Angela Miller’s kindergartner and third grader started writing stories and had picked up a list of 50 creative ways to write, saying that activity and acting out a story were some of their favorite stations they had visited.

“We’re hoping to finish writing the stories and do some of the writing activities at home,” she said.

Little did she know that about one month after that night, schools would be put on “soft closure” by Gov. Gary Herbert in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which possibly freed up time for her family to complete all 50 of the ideas.

Down the hall, In the library, second grader Jude Larsen had just finished reading out loud a poem he wrote, “Winter is my Favorite Season,” in the author’s chair. He was excited to go to the book exchange to pick out a new book and had a goal to hit at least seven of the 13 literacy stations.

His mother, Brooke, appreciated the night made possible by teachers and volunteers.

“It’s fun to connect all the different activities with reading,” she said. “It’s just reinforcing his excitement to read.”

Principal Melissa Beck said that was the purpose of the night’s activities.

“We want to give that spark with literacy, increase the excitement and let the students know reading and writing can be fun,” she said.

Activities ranging from comic strips to bookmarks, writing poetry to creating perceptual story-filled classrooms, hallways, including the cafeteria and stage. Even the LEGO theme, “Building readers one brick at a time” added to the fun as families and visitors lined up to have their photo taken by a LEGO brick background.

“Our family literacy night passport even features Lego characters, but parents understand behind all the fun, of the importance of reading and how it helps in all academic areas,” third grade teacher Kimberley Sanders said. 

Her class focused on reading all week with a spelling bee, readathon, biography reports and other literacy activities. They mixed in fun, creating book covers and dressing as their favorite literary characters such as Winnie the Pooh, Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Matilda and Harry Potter.

Helping alongside the teachers and volunteers were fifth and sixth grade students as well as high school students who staffed stations or helped youngsters with activities.

Bingham High juniors Semisi Vi and Zaiden Wright were among the school’s football team members who volunteered.

“We want to motivate them to do better in school, to keep going,” Semisi said.

Wright said that they were helping fun as well as hoping to inspire the younger students.

“It’s fun seeing the kids be happy doing all this and being a part of it,” he said. “We want to inspire the kids to do well in school and in their activities — football, track, volleyball, whatever they choose.”

Alex Rasmussen brought his 6-year-old, Garrett, and his 3-year-old, Warner, to the literacy night.

“Garrett told me all about it and really wanted to come,” he said. “He read out loud in the poetry chair, and it really gave him confidence.”

Guest readers were invited to read books to students, including Jordan School District Supt. Anthony Godfrey. He read, “The Three Little Super Pigs” by Clare Evans, which is a tale about the superpigs fighting crime, only to need to solve a mystery of the Big Bad Wolf escaping and bricks missing all over town.

“I love the visual clues, and the reader understands the characters,” said the former secondary school English teacher. “Shel Silverstein’s poems are another fun one to read, as it shows how fun language can be. But I love talking with the students and the questions they ask about the district. Many of them don’t know what a superintendent is, or they try to guess how many students are in the district at 500 or 1,000 and are surprised to learn its 58,000.”

In another classroom, South Jordan Fire Department Battalion Chief Jon Stone said he enjoyed reading in the relaxed setting, although the book he selected, “Book with No Pictures,” by BJ Novak, contained nonsense words and silly songs, which brought about giggles and he was asked to read it again and again.

“It was an interesting book,” he said about reading it for the first time. “The best part of doing this is the kids.”