It's Not Hard to Teach Huskies to Read

By: Dominic Gavan
LEESBURG, VA-Schools are more than just a random group of students walking through the halls. They have an identity which people recognize and associate the student body with. Tuscarora High School is aiming to make itself a school centered on literacy. This is slowly becoming a concrete identity through our policies that encourage reading and higher literacy. A new event is coming to Tuscarora that will further instill reading as a key part of Tusky Tradition. The Battle of the Books has officially come to Tuscarora; it is a new way to make reading even more interactive. Mrs. Walter is one of the teachers responsible for bringing the Battle to Tuscarora. She is the Literacy Specialist for Tuscarora, so it makes sense that she would encourage a reading based activity. “Reading is one of the key things to success. It helps you with the SAT’s and college,” stated Mrs. Walter. This statement should be significant to the student body, given the startling statistics about our generation’s problem with reading.
The Battle of the Books is a way to give people who love to read almost a sport to play. This 2010-2011 year will be the sixth annual celebration of reading, and there are so many schools participating in our area that Loudoun County had be to split into regions. The whole way it works is very simple: the Battle of the Books leaders pick ten books and with a team of four they must read them all. Once they have thoroughly read and studied the texts, they go on to a family feud- like battle with teams from other schools to see who has the better reading chops. This competition is part of the movement in our school to make our student body avid readers who can actually sit down and enjoy a great book. Our school has a group which already meets in the morning every week to discuss the books and quiz each other. I was able to visit them, and you can just feel the vibe of knowledge in the room. The feeling when these girls discussed the books and were so excited just gave me a positive feeling, so it’s not hard to see how reading can be good for you.
The Battle of the Books took place on April 1st and it was very intense. Five teams from the western district went head on for the top spot. Tuscarora High School ended up taking second place which put us in for the the finals on April 15th. The final event will take place on April 15th and the student must be prepare for an even harder competition with other teams who want the win just as bad.
Another event that has focused on literacy was Book in a Day, where thirty teens from Loudoun County met at the Rust Library. They had the honor of meeting renowned poet Kwame Alexander, this man is a well respected poet, publisher, and liiteracy specialist. Once the students went there they met with Kwame and with poetry they had recieved they helped develop a book and started to plan for a book launch party in june. As student Danny Sedlezeck stated “It really got me into Poetry it opened my eyes to what it really is”.
There are two other parts of this literacy movement, one we are very familiar with and the other we will be in the upcoming weeks. The first component is RISE read time, which is when the whole school reads for the first twenty minutes of study hall. Many students don’t actually realize how good for them this is. Any kind of reading stimulates the mind and makes us smarter. Most schools also have programs like RISE which helps show a nationwide movement towards bringing reading back. The second part is a literacy committee that Ms. Jacobs and Mrs. Walter are spearheading. This committee will oversee the school’s literacy and reading and address problems students might have with reading. This committee is in the working stage, so there are not too many details about it, but with a specialist like Mrs. Walter on the committee, this should make our school even better.