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Kids celebrating reading 23,933 books

June 12, 2000|By NATASHA CEPURA

Winter Street Elementary School students celebrated Monday that they read a combined 23,933 books during the past school year.

The elementary school in Hagerstown took part in a statewide program, Read Across America, which encourages take-home reading for elementary students.

The program begins each fall of the school year and ends for most schools in March. But students at Winter Street said they just could not stop reading.

The teachers organized "book baggies," in which the student took books home. Then they had their parents sign forms affirming the students had read on a given day.

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The books included in the bags varied and came from the school's library as well as from the Washington County Free Library and book mobile.

"Research shows that students that read at home improve on their reading scores and are higher achievers," said Pam Michael, the school's reading specialist. "Being read to not only counts, but helps the comprehension level as well."

In Mary Rogers' third-grade class, about eight of the 18 students started at the third-grade reading level. By the end of the program, 16 had made significant improvement, she said. Some students began at a second-grade level and jumped dramatically to seventh-grade reading levels, she said.

Of the school's 310 students, Kayla Bigler and Scott St. Clair read the most: They each read 600 books.

"My favorite book is 'Muffys Secret Admirer,'" Kayla said, adding she was very proud of herself.

As a reward, the students received certificates signed by Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening. Guest speakers visited to emphasize reading is fun and essential for many careers.

Julie Fitz, the parent involvement coordinator, recruited the speakers. She asked one of the managers of the Hagerstown Suns, Henry Porter, and baseball player Josh Holiday to talk with the students.

"The Suns have always been good with community involvement and gave the kids an up-close chance to see a player," Fitz said.

Holiday told the students that his favorite books included baseball stories, psychology and health and nutrition books. He said reading books on baseball has helped him work on his game.

Winter Street Elementary is once again extending the reading program into the summer. The July program, "Reading Rhythms," is intended to encourage summer reading and the love of reading, Michael said.

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