June 13th, 2024

Coalhurst Elementary School celebrates Family Literacy Day


By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on January 27, 2023.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke Grade 3 student Skylar Pointer and teacher Erica Schaffer came dressed as their favorite literary characters, Matilda from Roald Dahl's book, and the Paper Bag Princess from Robert Munsch's book.

Coalhurst Elementary School saw literary characters leap to life from the pages of their favourite books during its celebration of Family Literacy Day.

Students and staff dressed up as their favourite characters Thursday, coming together to celebrate the anniversary of its reading program along with Family Literacy Day. Coalhurst’s Partnership Association for Literacy (PAL) has been helping students in the school with their reading skills for 25 years, while connecting members of the community with students for one-on-one reading time, along with in-school reading programs with older grades to younger learners.

“We started at Coalhurst Elementary in 1998 with 14 readers, and now we are up to about 40,” said Lori Walker, PAL coordinator. “PAL is more about turning kids onto books than it is about teaching them how to read. Anybody that is passionate about reading can share with a child and take it from there, Kids Learn It is more about discussing books and making them fun.”

The Coalhurst PAL is a research-based program designed to reach young people in their development years.

“I know the results have been miraculous. Kids improved their reading skills. If they were a PAL being read with in grade one and two, they wanted to become a PAL tutor in grade five and six. It is a very continuous program that has flourished,” said Ted Likuski, retired principal and PAL committee member. “Because it is not funded by the school system, the funding we apply for (includes) grants and…private funding in order to operate the program to hire a coordinator and fundraisers for buying materials, like books.”

Coalhurst’s PAL program instills a love of literacy that helps young learners carry forward a positive drive for reading.

“Matilda, I really liked her book, its really good,” said Madysen Bates, a student at Coalhurst and PAL reader. “It’s really fun to see everyone and who they are.” Bates says she wants to read Matilda, by Roald Dahl, to her reading buddy one day, saying she prefers fantasy novels, like Tui T. Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series.

Celebrating a love for reading that helps young learners, the program helps connect generations of learners with a passion for literacy.

“Tonight, all the Coalhurst families are invited back for a family literacy celebration, and we have about 100 people coming,” said Walker.

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