English language learners at two Marysville middle schools will soon have the help of local adults to strengthen their reading and English skills.
The Everett Elks Club #479 has received a highly competitive national grant that will fund a Pen Pal program to encourage students at Cedarcrest and Marysville Middle School to read and write. Kids and their adult mentors will read the same book, then correspond about the experience in letters.
The $9,000 grant paid for a hundred new book titles, which have been ordered by the school librarians. Classroom teachers will choose an appropriate book for each of the 75 participating students, with an identical copy provided for the pen pal.
The literacy effort also includes a "Read Across America" celebration at the schools in March, with adults taking the opportunity to read excerpts of their favorite books aloud. Another get-together for adult mentors and their pen pals is planned for May.
The Elks Club is seeking ten more committed adults to be part of the program, agreeing to make a poster, read three or four easy books, write approximately ten letters in response to student correspondence, and attend a few events at the school.
Linda Averill, a spokesperson for the club, estimates the time commitment to be about a half-hour per week.
"The goal is to get these students to read and write English, to become more comfortable with it," said Averill. "At present they are below grade level and we want to help them make some gains."
As required for any school volunteer, State Patrol background checks are mandatory.
To find out more, contact the Everett Elks at (425) 252-4179 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, or phone Averill at (360) 659-0675.