SMART supporters read with kids, learn about literacy program

Yulisa Chavez, left, and Noelia Bastian, Westside Elementary first graders, read with Chuck Thomsen during Friday’s Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) event at the school. Behind Thomsen is Stephanie Serak of Walmart.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
Yulisa Chavez, left, and Noelia Bastian, Westside Elementary first graders, read with Chuck Thomsen during Friday’s Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) event at the school. Behind Thomsen is Stephanie Serak of Walmart.

The Start Making A Reader Today “Reading Matters” tour visited Westside Elementary School on April 18.

Principal Bill Newton welcomed Sen. Chuck Thomsen, Rep. Mark Johnson and other citizens, and other community members who got a direct experience of what the SMART reading is all about, by spending a half hour reading with youngsters who are involved in the program.

In all five Hood River County elementary schools, adult volunteers read each week with youngsters in grades K-3. SMART is an independent nonprofit that relies on private donations for nearly all its funding.

Newton read testimonials from teachers about the positive influence SMART has on children, and SMART Executive Director Chris Otis gave an overview of SMART, which operates at counties around the state.

Also attending were donor Mary Jane Heppe and Walmart’s Stephanie Serak and Eric Smith. Walmart was primary sponsor of the SMART event Tongue Twister Tournament in February, which raised $4,000 for the program.

Westside SMART coordinators Sally Pearson and Teresa Burrows, both volunteers, were present, along with SMART development manager Denise Harrison and SMART area coordinator Paula Seid, who works directly with each school coordinator in Hood River and schools in four other northeast Oregon counties.

Over the past 20 years, SMART has served more than 161,000 children in Oregon with the help of 108,000 volunteers, and has provided over 2 million books for children to take home and keep. Research shows that children who do not learn to read by third grade are more likely to struggle with reading as adults.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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