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Lighting a Fire for Literacy at Estes Elementary
Lighting a Fire for Literacy at Estes Elementary
Posted on 05/03/2019
Students rode to school in a fire truck and celebrated their peers through the Asheville Firefighters for Literacy program.By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Dept.

Sirens echoed and lights blazed while W.W. Estes Elementary students cheered the arrival of two fire trucks carrying their classmates on Friday morning, May 3. The Asheville Firefighters for Literacy program culminated in VIP treatment for young readers from each class who read the most books, including a parade through their school’s hallways, and a pancake breakfast served up by local firefighters from the Asheville Fire Department and Asheville Fire Fighters Association (IAFF Local 332). The six students who read the most earned a ride to school in a shiny red fire engine!

“I’m really excited and have never ridden in a fire truck!” said second grader Millie Bauernfeind prior to her ride to school. “I love to read, and it’s really fun that this is because of reading!”

Each month since October, the firefighters have visited the school, reading with students, giving prizes to those reading the most or improving, and offering their encouragement to read, explained senior firefighter James Mengel, who drove one of the trucks.

Students rode to school in a fire truck as part of the Asheville Fire Fighters for Literacy Program.Third-grader Asa Wilkerson hoped the drivers would use the sirens, which is exactly what they did as they entered the Estes parking lined with their classmates. The six accomplished readers included kindergartener Dustin Burke, first-grader Isaac Cassels, second-grader Millie Bauernfeind, third-graders Asa Wilkerson and Isa Pettigrew, and fourth-grader Yash Sawant.

After the riders exited the trucks, they joined other class winners and paraded through the school with their fire fighting friends. Their classmates lined both sides of each hallway, some holding encouraging signs, others cheering and offering high-fives. For the students, it was a celebration of their peers’ accomplishments and of the importance of literacy. It was evident that the partnership not only sparked an interest in reading at Estes, it lit an all-out (figurative) fire!

“It’s been so wonderful to see their excitement and motivation to read,” said Estes’ Assistant Principal Ms. Angie Trantham. “The students have been super proud to wear their Asheville firefighters t-shirts, and they’ve been super proud when the firefighters came to read and eat lunch with them. It’s been wonderful!”

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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