Santa helps to promote reading at Williams Elementary

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‘Tis the month of Christmas and all through the gym, all the children were reading; some on a whim.

Educators from Williams Elementary transformed their gym into a reading wonderland on Thursday evening. Teachers in their pajamas served hot coca and cookies to families while children had literacy stations to visit.

Then what to the children’s wondering eyes did appear, St. Nick – but without his reindeer.
After all of the reading activities were completed at the stations, the children were treated to a photo with Santa and then were invited to pick out a brand new book to take home.

Candice Bersola-Vallejos, SEAL Coach support with Williams Elementary, put the event together over the course of three weeks. She said she got the idea for Literacy Under the Lights after meeting with Jennifer Jelavich, Literacy Coordinator from the Colusa County Office of Education. The event stemmed from their desire to get more children to utilize the Footsteps2Brilliance literacy technology platform during the holiday break. Children were able to sign up for the Footsteps2Brilliance while at the event, as it was one of the stations required to visit before getting to sit with Santa.

“Literacy is our present to them,” said Bersola-Vallejos. “We wanted to promote reading. Now they have online access to books and they get to take a book home.”

For a premier, the event was a complete success. Bersola-Vallejos said that 100 percent of Williams teachers came in support of the event along with Colusa County Superintendent of Schools, Mike West, and the Colusa County Probation Department.

Williams Elementary Principal, Amanda Zimmerman, said they were hoping for 25 to 50 families. They prepared for more, which was a good thing, because there were 75 children who attended from outside of Williams or were too young for school enrollment.

“We’ve got to get them reading while they are young,” West said.

lrma Piña said that she brought her toddler Leighton to the event because, “It is something in the community for the kids to do.”

Zimmerman said the reason the school did this was to get books in kids’ hands.

“Reading is something kids should enjoy at school and at home,” she said.

Aaron Sillas, 8, received from Santa his favorite author, Ronald Dahl, of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” fame.

The success of the event has staff talking about the next event in the spring, the Literacy Luau, where there will be an emphasis on reading.

Santa was one of the last to leave. But we heard him exclaim as he packed up the remaining books, ere he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” ■