Literacy initiative promotes reading in primary school

READING CHALLENGE – Students of Bartlett Hill Primary School were rewarded for their effort in the Rotaract Club of Eight Mile Rock Reading Challenge 2017. Pictured from left to right are Diyaja Miller, Vice President of the Rotaract Club of Eight Mile Rock; Diyajane Forbes, winner, Upper Primary; Cassidy Cash, winner, Lower Primary and Oquille Forbes, President of the Rotaract Club of Eight Mile Rock.

Encouraging literacy in every form is a mandate that this year’s Rotaract Club of Eight Mile Rock intends to bring to the forefront, in addition to many other initiatives the club intends to expand upon for the betterment and empowerment of youth development in the community.

President of the Rotaract Club of Eight Mile Rock, Oquille Forbes told this daily that Bartlett Hill Primary school is near and dear to his heart, as it is the learning institution where he received his early education.

Utilizing the power of social media, Forbes shared that his club recently appealed to the public to donate both new and used books to enhance the library at Bartlett Hill Primary as well as other learning institutions within the community of Eight Mile Rock.

Questioned how his book drive originated Forbes disclosed, “We made a flyer about our book drive which was shared on various social media sites, such as Whats App, Facebook, Instagram and others. We decided that in order to make it easier for the donors, we would gladly come to them, and collect the donated books. We went to homes, businesses, anywhere they called us to come, we came. The Rotary Club of Sunrise was extremely influential, they actually brought us three bins of books during one of our weekly meetings. It was amazing.”

Additionally, he shared that a reading challenge was formulated at Bartlett Hill Primary, to further encourage reading at the school.

“The Rotary International theme this year is ‘Making a difference’ and our personal theme for the Rotaract Club of Eight Mile Rock is focused on youth development. I attended Bartlett Hill Primary School so when I thought about our youth development theme I thought about things that I could do to help the students of this school; what were some of the things that were lacking when I attended.
“That is when the idea of introducing a reading competition came to mind, offering a prize at the end of the competition, to encourage the students to read even more. The grand prizes were two tablets, one to be awarded a student in the lower primary and the other to one student in the upper primary.
“Along with that, we are donating books that we collected from our book drive that we held for the entire month of October and November.”

Forbes noted that the Rotaract Club of Eight Mile Rock accumulated an enormous amount of books, so many that they were not able to donate to his primary school, but two other schools in West Grand Bahama, namely Eight Mile Rock High and Martin Town Primary.

“Bartlett High Primary School also has a social services group; I was able to obtain sponsors from various Rotary Club groups on the island, to purchase backpacks for students, that are being donated to the social services group here at the school.

“There are many less fortunate children here at the school and even though it is late into the 2017/2018 school year, many of them still do not have all of the books, pens, and pencils that they need, including backpacks. Today we have about 50 backpacks in total to donate to the group.”
With respect to the reading competition, he shared that it was their hope to make the competition as easy as possible, to spark the children’s interest so that they would be more willing to be involved.
“We separated the competition into two groups, upper 4-6 and lower primary grades 1- 3. Each child was required to write a book report on each book read. We just wanted to encourage reading at every level.
He added that as he has siblings that attend the school, he witnessed first-hand that the reading competition’s objective was achieved, as it encouraged his siblings and other students enrolled at the school to read more.

Forbes furthered that collaboratively, as a community, much can be accomplished in the community of Eight Mile Rock to enhance youth development and other vital aspects of uplifting the community in general.

“I believe that if we can get everyone on the same accord as us, businesses in the community, the entire citizenry, coming together and working for one cause, there is so much that we can accomplish for the community of Eight Mile Rock.

“There are so many young people within the community of Eight Mile Rock; the opportunities for them to display their talents, or to even build their talents and interests are oftentimes absent. If we can get businesses working with Rotaract and Rotaract working with the Members of Parliament, there is so much that we can accomplish. The possibilities are endless."

Lavette Smith-Farrington, teacher/ School Librarian, Bartlett Hill Primary School shared her eagerness to participate in the reading challenge with the Rotaract Club of Eight Mile Rock and her students.
“I was approached by the President of the Rotaract Club of Eight Mile Rock, Oquille Forbes, back in September. He indicated at that time, that he wanted to work with the school in some way, particularly with reading being a chief initiative for them. We partnered with them in the library, which I absolutely loved; I jumped at the chance.

“He informed me that he really wanted to initiate a reading challenge and so I suggested that we do something to ensure that the kids really read the books, therefore they were encouraged to complete book reports for every book that they would have read. Many of them jumped at the chance and were reading continuously, for the month of November in particular, which is observed as Picture Book Month in the United States; I observed it here as well.

“We just wanted them to read as much as possible, for enjoyment, because it improves their fluency, it improves their creative writing skills and it is overall fun.

We reminded the students on a daily basis about the reading challenge; they filled out the book reports, which were very simple and they enjoyed it. We extended the challenge a little but we brought it to an end on November 27.”

Smith-Farrignton expressed that she and the learning institution would indeed partner with the Club again, and whomever would be interested in similar programs to further encourage reading among the students.

“We definitely want to do it again because it was well received and we enjoyed participating in it. I want to thank the Rotaract Club of Eight Mile Rock for partnering with the community to show that education is indeed important. It reflects their belief that they want our kids to do well and participate in programs that will encourage them and improve their intellectual skills and development.”

Principal of Bartlett Hill Primary, Gia Walker added that she was indeed in full support of the program. “It is a wonderful way of encouraging children to read more.

Winners of the reading challenge were Cassidy Cash and Diyajanae Forbes, third and sixth graders of Bartlett Hill Primary School respectively. They both shared their excitement upon learning that they were named the top readers in the competition and the fact that they were each receiving brand-new electronic tablets as their reward.

Cash, a student of Grade 3 said, “I read six books for the reading challenge.”

He shared that of the six books he read and wrote book reports on his favorite was a book entitled, Norma Jean, Jumping Bean adding that he was extremely thankful for his reward and he intends to participate in similar reading programs in the future.

Forbes, a student of Grade 6 Rolle informed, “I read a lot of books and I really wanted to win the tablet so I fought for it. I read a total of 14 books and I wrote a book reports on each of them.
She was questioned on what she would tell others to become involved with other reading challenges in the future, Forbes responded, “I encourage all students to read and really fight for whatever it is that they want.”

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