By Seamus McGuire, AmeriCorps Member, Alumni Sponsored Team,
Serving at Parker-Varney Elementary School

On November 20th, Parker-Varney Elementary School held their Literacy Night from 6 to7:30 pm. Corps member Gabby Highdale was in charge of overseeing the project from start to finish. Running a literacy night is a huge undertaking and Gabby really stepped up to the plate. She put in weeks of preparation and planning to make sure that every student and family member that came had an amazing night. With her motivation and instruction she was able to lead the Parker Varney team to achieve one of Parker-Varney’s most successful literacy nights! Last year Parker Varney Literacy night attracted 88 people to the school. This year we had over 180 people in attendance! We publicized and hyped up the event by presenting signs to the students and parents during morning greeting. With such a large attendance it was wonderful to see that all our advertising had paid off.

The theme for the night was on different forms of media. City Year was able to offer a variety of different booths: Comic Book Creation, Boggle, Bookmark Bonanza, Multimedia Mania, Magazine Booth, Forward the Email Booth and a Thesaurus Booth. Each booth featured a different outlet of the media to engage students in literacy. When students checked in they were given a stamp card that listed each booth. Students were given a check if they completed the activity at each booth. When they had a completed checklist they were able redeem it for a slice of free pizza at the food table! The incentive was nice, but it was amazing to see so many students and families engaged in the activities because they actually enjoyed doing them. I know this to be the case because I saw it first hand at my Comic Book Creation Booth.

The Comic Book Creation booth was a great success because it gave the students the freedom to create and show off their work. I wanted to keep the booth simple and fun but also ensure it was educational. To do this I found a basic comic strip template with three squares across. Students were encouraged to create a short story about a superhero that they were familiar with, or create their own. They were instructed to tell their story by drawing pictures and using text bubbles.  After they were satisfied with their work they were encouraged to glue their comic onto the Parker Varney comics board, an eight foot long paper. This allowed the students’ work to be displayed, so that anyone who came to the station could admire it. The success of the booth had been overwhelming joyous for me. Before I started I thought that I had too many templates and that my bulletin board paper had been too long. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only had all of my 100 templates been used, we also had no room left on the bulletin board. The success of my station was achieved with the support of corps members: Doug Wich, Abby Papinchak, and Amanda Valledor. Without these people my station would not have been able to meet the student demand. They were quick to help and extremely adaptable, and the students couldn’t have been happier.

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