By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
After 25 years, the annual Steiner Elementary School reading pow-wow may have made its last appearance.
The event allows first-graders and their parents to move through several stations, where the students read to earn portions of American Indian costumes and hear about related history. Parents do much of the preparation and operate the stations when their children aren’t participating.
“It promotes reading; it’s a family night; they earn their way (to attend) through good behavior and reading, reading books,” said teacher Dona Hampton, who worked at the school when the pow-wow began.
After next year, Hampton said, Steiner students will move to James Elementary School and then there will be more students and existing traditions. Teachers don’t expect to continue the pow-wow there.
Organizers thought the 25th pow-wow might be a good place to end, but they may also hold the event one more year before moving to James, Hampton said.
Hampton said at least 200 of Steiner’s 250 students, all first-graders, attend the pow-wow.
“It’s the best thing in history,” said first-grader Nathan Rose.
Nathan said he learned about animals from Caprock Veterinary Clinic, including that some people have pet hedgehogs. Caprock provided the traditional petting zoo this year.
Steiner teacher Bridget Segovia participated in the first pow-wow as a first-grader. She said it was amazing the tradition was still going.
“You had to earn it,” she recalls of her pow-wow experience.
Earning the right to attend was a “big deal,” and she thought it was neat to come to school at night, read, learn about American Indians and show her parents what she could do, Segovia said.
“I just think it’s a good opportunity for the parents and children to come to school together,” she said.
Alvonna Arnold, who teaches kindergarten at Brown Early Childhood Center, started the pow-wow tradition with Kathy Aragon when they both taught at Steiner.
“I’m just so proud of the teachers for keeping it going on,” she said.
Arnold said the children of the first children to attend the pow-wow are now coming to the event.
Aragon and Arnold came up with the idea to “get parents involved reading with their kids in a fun setting,” Arnold said.
Micah Thompson, whose daughter Riley participated in the pow-wow this year, said the event was a great way for students to learn about history. She said it was nice to live in a small community, where parents and student can get together after school, and where teachers and parents are willing to work hard to make it happen.
Riley also appreciated the pow-wow.
“It was fun,” she said.