Bogalusa Literacy Program Shared with The Bogalusa Rotarians

Published 1:16 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

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The monthly Rotary Club meeting was one of sharing and learning about our Parish happenings.  After enjoying a delicious meal, Lorraine Bourn spoke about the Library’s Literacy Program that has started at Central Elementary, Bogalusa City Schools.

The idea of a literacy program started with a conversation about the connection between incarcerations and low literacy rate.  Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the United States.  85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile system are functionally low-literate.  High school dropouts are 63% more likely to be incarcerated than their peers with a four-year college degree.

The Legislature recently passed a bill stating that third grade students that do not pass the reading test cannot be promoted to fourth grade.  They will be required to attend summer school.  The loop hole is that the school must promote them if they attend summer school (pass or fail).   This means they may continue attending classes even if they do not have the reading skills necessary to be successful.

The solution, the Library Literacy program is proposing, is to zero in on the basic reading skills.  The most basic need is word recognition, “sight words”.  There is a list called the Dolch word list and the Fry list that consist of the most common words the student will meet as he learns to read.  As motivation, the program offers a medal that the student will be awarded by being able to read all 520 sight words.  Volunteers are going to Central Elementary to give each third-grade student the opportunity to earn the medal.

Students start at the beginning level and work their way through the entire list.  Students who have difficulty are encouraged to practice(parents and guardians can help at home).  Extra help is offered at the Library on Friday mornings from 9:00 – 11:00 am.  Seeing the number of students that are struggling demonstrates the need to expand the program to include first and second graders in order to avoid a crisis at the third-grade level.

The Literacy Program would like to eventually offer the program to all schools in Washington Parish.  What can make that happen is community volunteers.  It would require offering to work with the students for one hour on Tuesday morning, Thursday afternoon, and/or Friday mornings at the Library.  In order to go into the school, the volunteer must go to the School Board office, fill out a form, take the form to the Sheriff’s office in Franklinton, and be finger printed.  Within a day or two the Sheriff’s office will notify the School Board that you have been approved.  Then you go to work!

If you are inspired and motivated to help create a better tomorrow for Bogalusa youth, we invite you to volunteer and join the individuals to make a difference as an adult tutor or donor who champions literacy in our community.

The Community can also help by helping purchase the medals and the set of flash cards needed by each volunteer.  Checks can be made to the Bogalusa Library for the Literacy Program.  Please enclose a note designating the contribution is for the Literacy Program.  A $10 donation will cover the cost of three medals!

The Bogalusa Rotary recently supported and offered a generous contribution to the Literacy Program.

JFM / Bogalusa Literacy Program 23 Rotary