Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 11, 2014

Miss NSU reads to Tahlequah third-graders

TAHLEQUAH — Third-graders at three of Tahlequah’s elementary schools were told about the importance of reading - and were read a story - by a special guest on Wednesday.

Miss Northeastern State University LaTasha Atcity visited the schools and read Judith Viorst’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” She also gave a free book and bookmark to each student.

“My platform is underprivileged youth, so literacy ties into that,” Atcity said. “Underprivileged children often don’t have a lot of educational support at home. That is what I’m addressing throughout my year of service.”

Stops were made at Cherokee, Heritage and Greenwood elementary schools, launching the Rowdy RiverHawk Readers program at NSU. Atcity’s visits were part of Tahlequah Public Schools’ preparations for the state-mandated reading tests for third-graders.

“These tests are a big deal – a game-changer for some,” said Lacie Davenport, Heritage principal. “If any come up unsatisfactory, they don’t advance to the fourth grade. We are doing everything we can to get them prepared. We want to keep it light-hearted, but also make sure they understand the importance of the tests.”

Dr. Allyson Watson, who holds the Eddings Endowed Chair for Urban Education, Outreach and Research at NSU, said the assemblies were devised after she was contacted by Atcity and Sarah Johnson, NSU coordinator of campus activities.

“I’d had this outreach program that I wanted to do, to go into the community and encourage students about this upcoming test,” Watson said. “LaTasha believes in them. We combined the two, and she goes into her own community to talk about the importance of reading. It also shows the university right down the street cares. We love our relationship with the schools.”

Literacy is a personal issue for Atcity. She is a successful college senior, but she is also dyslexic.

“It wasn’t until I was older that I was diagnosed by a specialist,” she said. “You could probably tell that I suffer from dyslexia while I was reading, even though I’ve read the book a million times. It is something I deal with daily. It can be scary, and that fear can affect a child taking the test.”

Dyxlexia is a reading disorder. Those with the condition often perceive letters as flipped or reversed. Though classified as developmental, it is not age-specific and improvement is attained through educational support.

“It doesn’t go away,” Atcity said. “Growing up, I was ashamed of it, and it affected my confidence. Now that I am older, I see that a person’s education can still progress with the condition. I have made it my mission to let kids know you don’t have to be the best reader; you can still read. It might take you a little longer, but you can still do it.”

Atcity is a 2008 graduate of Tahlequah High School. She will graduate from NSU in December with a degree in public relations, and will compete in the Miss Oklahoma Pageant, June 3-7 in Tulsa.

She maintains a Facebook page called “Empowering Youth: Making a Change.” A fundraiser is set for April 17 at Katfish Kitchen,1095 E. Fourth St., to help defer expenses to compete in the pageant.

“All the support helps,” Atcity said.

“I’m hoping to raise more than I need so I can start one or two scholarships for underprivileged area youths who plan to attend NSU.”


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