“Mesquite Reads” opens its second summer session

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Some elementary students are giving up some hours of outdoor fun to be a part of a very “cool” program called “Mesquite Reads.” The 2015 program was kicked off on June 16 at Virgin Valley Elementary School with a morning open house for parents and the community. While the kids gathered in the cafeteria for breakfast, parents enjoyed coffee and rolls next door in the auditorium.  Soon the kids filed in, and Principal Kathy Davis welcomed all to the second round of this special summer session that helps youngsters to excel in the reading and math skills that will carry them through life.

Attentive parents listened to VVES staff as they explained what the students would do during their summer classes. Photo by Linda Faas.

Attentive parents listened to VVES staff as they explained what the students would do during their summer classes. Photo by Linda Faas.

After a demonstration of some of the computer-based programs that are used to build skills and measure progress, parents were given opportunity for question/answers. Then the kids went off with their teachers for one-to-one coaching in reading skills.  The students will attend morning classes four days a week until July 16.

Last year, Virgin Valley Elementary School saw that a summer reading program could boost students who were reading below grade level.  Reading well by third grade is one of the best indicators that a student will succeed in upper grades and graduate from high school. The staff proposed a supplemental reading and math program for K to 3rd graders. The “Mesquite Reads” program was designed to help up to 90 kids avoid the summer “slump” of non-reading. VVES Principal, Cathy Davis, went looking for financial help within the community to run the program that fell outside the Clark County School District budget.

Mesquite Reads students gathered for breakfast and class assignments. Photo by Linda Faas.

Mesquite Reads students gathered for breakfast and class assignments. Photo by Linda Faas.

The proposal struck a chord with Andre Carrier, COO of the Eureka Casino Resort. Carrier promised to match, dollar for dollar, any donations raised for the program. A flurry of fundraising activities touched every corner of town.  Enough cash was raised to fund the program for 2014, and the efforts have continued onward.

During the hot days of June and July, 2014, young students eagerly jumped into their special program.  Enthusiastic teachers enjoyed working with the eager kids. The Eureka was on hand to encourage the kids with an awesome “all-you-can-eat” spaghetti lunch every Thursday.

Reading instructor Lucy Guzman, left, pauses to greet program supporters, left to right, Gerri Chasko, Dr Ann Rice, George and Linda Gault, Jake Noll, Gloria George, Ken Cook, and BJ White. Photo by Linda Faas.

Reading instructor Lucy Guzman, left, pauses to greet program supporters, left to right, Gerri Chasko, Dr Ann Rice, George and Linda Gault, Jake Noll, Gloria George, Ken Cook, and BJ White. Photo by Linda Faas.

The students themselves provided the best thanks of all to the community by turning in markedly improved reading and math scores during the regular school year. “Mesquite Reads” achieved such success in its first summer that kids are now diving into their favorite books and stories, and teachers are now coaching 88 more kids from the two local elementary schools who need help in reading at grade level.

The free “Mesquite Reads” program is offered to students and parents who agreed to support attendance and study goals. Information about how to donate to the “Mesquite Reads” program is available through Gerri Chasko, Eureka Community Initiative at 702-345-4726.

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