Kid's Day at the Fair

Kid's Day at the Fair was a huge success! We teamed up with other community organizations to promote "breaking the chain of addiction." Three hundred and eight children made symbolic links for a chain that will be broken at the closing of the Summer Reading Program at Myers Pool on July 25th at 5:30. The chain will be stretched across the pool and the kids will break the chain as they jump into the water. Breaking the chain is symbolic to "breaking the chain" of addiction of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Addiction leads to poverty, child abuse and low literacy skills. We are working to stop the domino effect. 


Red noses roll into all first grade classrooms, as part of SOAR’s “Put Your Nose In A Book “program during Children’s Book Week.

Red noses adorned a retired teacher, a dentist, and firefighters to grab the attention of Washington County first graders, as part of, SOAR’s Put Your Nose In A Book Program!  This year’s Put Your Nose In A Book program was conducted by community readers in the first-grade classrooms of all three schools in the county.  Wearing red noses, volunteers read an age-appropriate book to the first graders at Bradie Shrum Elementary, East Washington Elementary and West Washington Elementary. Each reader was matched up with the theme of each school’s book. For example, Dr. Jared Kearschner, DDS, of Kearschner Family Dentistry read “Ready, Freddy, Tooth Trouble.” Also, Firefighters with the Salem Fire Department read, “Fly Guy Presents: Firefighters.” Retired teacher Alice Nevels read “The Best Seat in Second Grade” to the East Washington first graders.

The goal of the Put Your Nose In A Book program is to promote reading during the summer break by reminding the first graders to put their noses in a book over the summer and READ! This program goes along with our mission to increase the literacy in our county by promoting and providing educational resources for families and adults. “The PYNIAB program combats the cycle of illiteracy issues at the beginning of the cycle with the youth,” said SOAR Director Stephanie Rockey.

When we conduct PYNIAB, throughout the county, the session begins with each first grader receiving a red nose, a bookmark with sponsorship listing, and his or her own copy of the book. Students were able to follow along while their PYNIAB volunteer read to them.  Also, each first grade teacher received a copy of the book for his or her classroom library.

PYNIAB would not be possible without the following generous community sponsors: Ace Hardware of Salem, Fredericksburg Lions Club, Jeans’ Extrusions, Jerry & Sherry Hammond, Martinsburg Lions Club, Norman & Anne Terrell, Ron Haendiges State Farm Insurance, Rita Elliott, Salem Crossing, Salem Exchange Club, Salem Lions Club, Salem York Rite Masons, Tom E. Scifres- Attorney at Law.

Also, our program would not be so captivating of the first grader’s attention without our volunteer readers! At West Washington, retired teacher and former SOAR board member Alice Nevels read, “The Best Seat in Second Grade.” Heading over to East Washington Elementary, guest reader Dr. Jared Kearschner, DDS read “Ready, Freddy! Tooth Trouble” to students.  Also at East Washington, long-time SOAR volunteer Ken Powell made special memories, by reading to his great grandson’s class. In Lion country, at Bradie Shrum, Salem Fire Department readers were firemen MJ Jones, Jeff Miller and Mike Mead.  The firemen read “Fly Guy Presents: Firefighters,” captivating the attention of the students and also going over fire safety tips! 

“I am really pleased with how well the program went this year!  The children had their “listening ears” on full blast. I couldn’t have asked for this year’s program to have gone any smoother.  I am always anxious to see if the fire department could get a fire run while reading and have to leave. But, I guess that would really get that first grade classroom’s attention,” said Rockey.  Just the other day, I had a student at Bradie Shrum holler out, “Mom, there is the fire lady that brought us books!”  I had to smile- I will answer to anything, as long as they correlate it with books and reading!


Exceptional turnout for 5th SOAR Chili Cook-Off

One word- “Wow!” That would sum up our 5th SOAR Chili Cook-off, which was held on March 14th.  We had an exceptional turnout and we are very elated at the amount of funds raised- $4,300.00- to help us in promoting adult and family literacy in Washington County.

We had seven teams compete this year along with two more non-competing teams with our “Hall of Fame” table.  In all, those who attended were able to try nine varieties of chili- ranging from white chili to pulled pork chili and from ghost pepper chili to down home chili. Also, those in attendance got to top their chili off this year- at the “chili bar.” Admission also includes peanut butter sandwiches along with a drink.