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New reading program at Ahfachkee focuses on Native books

Kathy Dixon, media clerk, helps Ahfachkee sixth grader Thanoke Roberts with the Read Native program Feb. 11. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

BIG CYPRESS — Ahfachkee students are reading books by and about Native Americans in a new program called “Read Native.” The program was inspired by the American Indian Library Association’s inaugural program of the same name, but was modified for Seminole students. The school launched the program in January for third to sixth graders with plans to expand it next year.

“We wanted to motivate the kids to read while learning about their own and other Native cultures,” said Michele Horrell, Ahfachkee media specialist. The program includes a list of categories on a bingo card with books to match each category. Students choose which categories they are interested in and figure out which books to read to get a winning bingo. Prizes are given for each bingo winner, including candy bars and fidget spinners.

Some of the categories on the bingo card are books about the Seminole Tribe and other tribes, including Native celebrations, food, politicians, leaders, language, scientists, celebrities, artwork, myths or legends, history, culture and current affairs.

Together with Horrell, a sixth grade class read “Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer,” by Traci Sorell (Cherokee). Ross was the first Native American aerospace engineer and one of NASA’s “hidden figures,” whose contributions to the space industry remained unknown for years. She was also the first female engineer at Lockheed Aircraft Corp. and worked on projects such as the Apollo program, which sent astronauts to the moon.

“She never bragged,” Horrell read from the book. “She believed no one person deserved credit for what they did together as a team.”

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at