Children were thrilled and their parents were high-spirited as they brainstormed on projects and solving puzzles at the second annual back-to-school Night at the Library last month, sponsored by the Education Department and the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums at the Florence Williams Public Library on St. Croix.
The night was hosted by Denise Gomes of the Education Department’s Office of the Commissioner. Superintendent of Schools Colleen Mae Williams, along with Deputy Superintendent Faith George-Boone, opened the program and participated in the educational activities along with parents and students.
With a literacy backdrop in the midst of the public library, the event proved to be a nice prelude to the opening of the 2017-18 school year, especially for the children who enjoyed an evening of fun and learning. Parent-participant Marie Chiverton, who came out with her daughter, said the event was impressive. “It allowed for parent-child interaction in a different setting. My daughter enjoyed it and it made me happy,” she said. “I was especially thrilled when Ms. Gomes had her (my daughter) call out the winning numbers for the very last raffle.”
Chiverton’s experience exemplified the general mood of the literacy gathering that brought out mothers, fathers and even grandparents. Valrica Bryson, director of Cultural Education for the Education Department, kicked off the event with a humorous Bro’ Nancy tale. School District Elementary Programs Coordinator Jeselle Cruse-Peters kept up the pace with the parents, engaging them in games that relaxed the atmosphere and brought everyone together as the youngsters left to participate in fun-filled, educational activities in adjacent rooms of the library.
Gomes, with her pre-K to sixth- grade students comfortably seated on rugs, talked about the importance of good behavior and striving for excellence as she placed the students in the roles of superheroes. After snacks, Assistant Commissioner Chermaine Hobson engaged the youngsters in an American Sign Language lesson of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” State Teacher of the Year Dinah Browne inspired intermediate students, stimulating their critical thinking abilities and Nichole Samuel Miller also completed a creative writing workshop session with the fourth- to sixth-graders.
Other presenters and volunteers included Glenda McKenzie; Alexandria Baltimore-Hookfin; Nichole Miller; Deborah Petersen; Lynel Lynch, Yvette McMahon-Arnold, and the staff of DPNR’s Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums.
VIYA donated reusable bags and other gifts, while Home Depot supplied materials and tools as part of a Kid’s Workshop Kit that parent-child teams used to construct trophies. At the end of the evening students presented their original work to an audience of their parents and peers.
The family-oriented celebration of literacy supports the ninth annual Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge, which challenges students in grades K-6 to read five or more books over the summer.