Last year, about 15 percent of students at Wachter Middle School were Native American, according to data from the state Department of Public Instruction.

In attempt to bring together these Native American students and their families — and promote reading and writing — the school is hosting its first Native American family night on Tuesday. 

Nicole Faul, a parent-family liaison at Wachter Middle School, helped organize the event in part to celebrate Native American Heritage Month. The family night will feature traditional Native American foods and storytelling.

Tribal elders will tell stories in teepees as a way to help develop skills in language, listening and speaking, Faul said.

Bismarck Public Schools recently received about a $5.5 million federal grant to improve literacy skills of disadvantaged students, called the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant.

Cammy Erickson, instructional coach at the school, said staff members applied to receive some of that funding for the event. Earlier this week, they organized a family night for English-language learners and their families.

School staff plan to host additional after-school events such as these in the future, including bringing in a Native American author.

"Building those relationships with families and showing them the value of literacy, hopefully that will be something that’s instilled in their families and their kids and they’ll find the value of literacy in school and at home," Erickson said.

A meal will be served from 5:30 to 6 p.m. at Wachter Middle School, followed by an hour of storytelling. A similar event will be held in the spring.

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)