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Hayes Elementary Family Literacy Night Packs 'em in

Nearly 200 families crowded the school for an evening of fun, music and reading.

was alive with activity Thursday for Family Literacy Night, as students returned to school with parents in tow for an evening of games, music and reading.

The annual event, now in its sixth year, attracted about 175 families, said reading teacher Mary Quiring. Underscoring reading and learning as lifelong activities is the participation of preschool and adult-literacy programs. Books are available at the event at no cost or at "huge discounts," Quiring said.

People packed the corridors as they moved between games and other attractions. The sound of big beats drew folks to music teacher Karin Beckstrand's classroom, while down the hall in the gymnasium, performer Jack Pearson's songs and stories drew an engaged audience of parents and kids who sat on blankets, picnic-style.

"The tradition is established," said principal John Piotraschke, surveying the crowd.

Pearson is a fixture at Hayes, having returned to the school annually to perform and work with students on songwriting and curriculum-based activities for 19 years, Piotraschke said.

"I've developed this working relationship with the folks here at Hayes," Pearson said after his performance.

The music and game-playing has a focus, said Quiring: building "a fun family environment around literacy and reading."

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