Legion president Doug Hadley handed over a $1,000 cheque to Parkside elementary principal Lynn Fairley on school grounds the morning of Tuesday, July 7. (Special to the Aldergrove Star)

Legion pays for Aldergrove elementary school to expand reading program to every student

Until now, only primary students (K-3) at Parkside had access to free books to read at home

Aldergrove legion is helping Parkside elementary school expand its literacy program so that students in all grades, not just primary, can receive books to take home come September.

Legion president Doug Hadley handed over a $1,000 cheque to Parkside principal, Lynn Fairley, on school grounds Tuesday morning.

“If a child can read, they can do anything,” emphasized Fairley, who spoke of the program which aims to tackle illiteracy and empower students at home.

“When I arrived almost four years ago as vice-principal for Parkside, I began to collect data on reading levels for students,” Fairley retold.

“The data was a little alarming with 70 per cent of students yet to meet grade-level expectations by Grade 3.”

In years since, Parkside has ramped up its Home Reading program, which sees free books go home with students and read with parents as homework.

The school’s goal is to see Parkside’s Grade 5 students graduate while meeting grade-level reading expectations.

READ MORE: Aldergrove moms orchestrate class photo for Parkside Kindergarteners amid COVID-19

Illiteracy in Aldergrove might come as a surprise for many, Fairley acknowledged.

“We have a fair number of illiterate families. In fact it’s generational in some of our student groups,” she said.

“But we want parents to start to read too with their child, and feel successful.”

Money donated by the legion will be used to kickstart the creation of book bins for intermediate students – in Grades 4 and 5 – to grab good reads from.  

RELATED: Parkside Elementary opens free mini grocery store amid COVID-19

“We have some home reading books for our primary students (approximately 300 children) which are quite old,” continued Fairley.

Unfortunately, some books do not get returned back to the school.

“But we do not have any home reading books for intermediate students to take home,” the principal said, in regards to approximately 200 students at Parkside.

The intermediate book bins were slated to get built during spring break but the COVID-19 pandemic halted the program’s expansion.

Books exchanging hands was a potential carrier of the virus, Fairley said.

READ MORE: Parkside students get their grad walk, despite COVID-19

Now the goal for Grades 4 and 5 to be taking home books is September, when a new school year begins.  

Home reading sees families spend 20 to 30 of quality reading time together each night, Fairley said.

In addition to the program, during the regular school year, Parkside parents come into their child’s class and volunteer to read with students.

“Our goal for our students is to be literate so that they feel empowered to achieve anything they set their minds to,” Fairley committed.

AldergroveRoyal Canadian Legion

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