Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Lewisville Fire Department sponsors “Blazing a Trail for Literacy” program in 11 elementary schools
"We try to promote reading in every possible way because with good fundamentals children grow into good contributing citizens."
LEWISVILLE What better way to get the attention of drivers and children at the beginning of the school year than to have a bright red fire truck or a piece of fire department apparatus sitting in front of your child’s school, lights flashing, and big side banners saying “Please drive slow. Schools back in session”? The Lewisville Fire Department has done just that with their “School Zone Program.”
For the first two days of school, fire engines and other fire apparatus were unobstructively placed in front of Lewisville’s 11 elementary schools as a reminder to drivers to be watchful.
Lewisville Fire Chief Rick Lasky said that in the game of things, it may seem like an insignificant thing, but it has proven to be very successful.
“I can’t say how many fire departments outside the city that has picked up on this,” Lasky said. “We have had people who aren’t parents to comment on what a good idea it is.”
Equally as important is the fire department’s “Blazing a Trail for Literacy” reading program which starts in March of each year.
“We try to promote reading in every possible way because with good fundamentals children grow into good contributing citizens,” said Lasky. “As fire chief, I read to children at the library a couple of times a month and I try to get to the elementary schools as well.”
Marty Turco, goalie for the Dallas Stars hockey team and Lewisville Honorary Fire chief, kicks off the “Blazing a Trail for Literacy” program by going to two or three schools reading to the students, Lasky said.
“The kids love it and he [Turco] loves it as well,” he said. “It fits right into his own public service program, “Stick with Reading.”
Lasky explains that the reading contest involves the kindergarten through fifth grade classes at all 11 Lewisville elementary schools.
“At each school, the student from each grade level who reads the most minutes is declared the winner,” he said. “The six students from each school are rewarded for their hard work with a backpack with our department patch on it, a gift card to Barnes & Noble Bookstores, an autographed hockey card or hockey puck from goalie Marty Turco, and a ride to school on a fire truck, which arrives at their school in front of all of their friends.”
Lasky said that the fire department’s annual public related educational fund is $3,800 and the reason they are able to do so much for the schools is because individuals and businesses jump up and donate.
“Somehow Lewisville has been able to hang onto that small town flavor,” he said. “People in this community are incredible; they want to help. If you take that away, you take away community involvement.”