With a resounding "ARRRGHH" and a theme of "Books Ahoy," students at Stoddard Elementary School in Blackfoot kicked off their third annual reading challenge Friday as part of the Idaho Reads! VISTA [Volunteers In Service To America] program.
Annie Tanner, Idaho Reads! VISTA representative for Stoddard, said the whole purpose of the program is to promote family literacy and encourage parent involvement in the school.
"This year they are to help me as the lost pirate in finding a 'treasure in every letter' as they are challenged to read a book that begins with each letter in the alphabet as well as a few other titles," Tanner said.
The goal is for each student to complete 40 books by March 31. Those who complete the challenge will get to attend a pirate-themed reward party in April where there will be fun and prizes for all plus a special pirate appearance by Cap'n Wilson.
Tanner said that to help motivate the kids, they were shown a DVD of last year's Idaho Reads! VISTA reward party (which was a luau theme) at a school assembly.
"As the movie transitioned from luau to pirates, a pirate (myself) appeared from behind the curtain while loud pirate music played," she went on. "The kids were given flags as part of the assembly to help them participate in a skit and get excited for the challenge."
Tanner said that during the next five months of the competition that there will be opportunities for the kids to read at home during recess with local heroes, teachers and other members of the community.
"The kids really had fun at the kickoff," Tanner said. "Hopefully they will head out to read like crazy until March."
Idaho Reads! VISTA is a grant-funded program offered by the State Department of Education and funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service. Eligible applicants are Idaho elementary schools containing a K-3 grade span that qualify for Title I services. and or literacy programs serving children in kindergarten through third grade serving a low income population.