Fourth graders start reading project

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By The Staff

The Levy County Schools Foundation announces the start of the Black Stallion Literacy Project for all Levy District fourth graders for the second year. "This literacy program motivates children to discover the joys of reading and wonders of learning through the magic of live horses and a Black Stallion book by Walter Farley", says Dara Bergdoll, Black Stallion Chairman. 2007 funding for this program was provided by Perkins Financial Group, Inc. and Heath Davis Company, Inc. and this year's program is being sponsored again by Perkins Financial Group, Inc., along with The Barfield Group.

After spring break, each fourth grade student received their personal hardback copy of the classic Black Stallion book and upon completion of the reading program will attend a live equitheater performance by Arabian Nights Dinner Attraction in May at the Southeastern Regional Livestock Pavilion in Ocala.

The fourth grade program promotes the joy of reading while improving comprehension. It is well documented that the improvement from basic reading to the ability to read a "chapter book" is one of the most important academic transitions in a child's education. To motivate the students to make this step, the Black Stallion Literacy Project has developed a comprehensive program involving The Black Stallion novel, the Frances Ford Coppola movie The Black Stallion, a live equitheater performance and a curriculum that meets National and State teaching standards.

A 6-foot stand-up is provided for each class on opening day. The children are then given their copies of The Black Stallion, Hoof Prints, a description and history of the Arabian horse and a letter to parents explaining the program and encouraging their participation. Teachers are encouraged to make the BSLP a multi-disciplinary project, including reading, art, writing and even music in their classroom.

Fourth grade teachers receive the BSLP supplemental curriculum and teaching exercises. This supplemental curriculum includes a book study guide for all chapters in the book, a list of horse related resources, a screen play for a portion of the movie, a story board and a host of ideas that are all adapted to fit state standards.

The program concludes with the field trip to the Arabian Nights performance in Ocala, but the students' enthusiasm for reading continues long past the program. Participating schools report not only an increase in enthusiasm for required reading, but also a dramatic increase in the use of school library books.

Last year the foundation received many wonderful letters with pictures from the students attending the show. They truly enjoyed this experience. The group is grateful to Perkins Financial Group, Inc and The Barfield Group for enabling it to again offer the Black Stallion Literacy Project for all Levy County fourth-grade students.