Wyoming Reads celebrates literacy with area first graders

(Courtesty photo) Crook County first graders taking part in the Wyoming Reads celebration at Devils Tower.


Crook County first graders from Hulett, Moorcroft and Sundance made their annual trek to Devils Tower National Monument for the 12th annual Wyoming Reads celebration in Crook County. The day started off a little wet with drizzling rain throughout the morning. Nevertheless, everyone enjoyed the natural history of Devils Tower with a hike around. Ranger Joe Bruce of Devils Tower National Monument was on hand to give a guided tour for Sundance students and he answered many questions from whole group of students. After their hike, students met at the picnic area and ate lunch. Area coordinator Bonnie Stahla, Youth Services Librarian at the Crook County Library in Sundance, explained how Wyoming Reads came to be and of wonderful Sue Jorgensen and how her foundation was founded. A readers’ theater of My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems was performed by Bonnie Stahla, Kathy Bjornestad, Sundance Elementary Library Media Specialist and Bailee Fremont, Sundance first grade teacher. There were many giggles throughout the crowd, as they seemed to enjoy it. Bonnie also read Barn Yard Boogie by Jim and Janet Post with a lot of interaction from the students. Each student received a hardback book with his/her name on a bookplate inside. This year the students also received a Devils Tower activity book presented to them by Ranger Joe.

John Jorgensen established the Sue Jorgensen Library Foundation in 1996 and founded the “Casper Cares, Casper Reads” celebration in 1999 to honor his late wife’s commitment to literacy and children. This local event was renamed “Wyoming Reads” when it first expanded statewide in 2006. “She was always very dedicated to children and to literacy,” says John. “She believed that until someone can read, they can’t really do anything else.” That is the vision fueling this important community enterprise.

Through the fundraising efforts of the Sue Jorgensen Library Foundation, there was enough money raised again this year to give every first grade student in Wyoming their own hardcover book.

Partners in this year’s Wyoming Reads celebration include the McMurry Foundation, Tonkin Foundation, Casper Rotary Club, Natrona County Recreation Joint Powers Board, Friends of the Natrona County Library, Casper Kiwanis Club, Wyoming Community Foundation, Rocky Mountain Power, Sinclair Refinery and a number of generous individuals.