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Bester student's initiative prompts increased reading

December 21, 2004|by JANET HEIM

janeth@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Here's a twist - watching television actually led to more book reading by some local students.

While it seems unlikely, Bester Elementary School fourth-grader Fransico Mendoza took the initiative to get his school involved in the Mucha Lucha! Read-a-Rama after seeing a commercial for it on Kids' WB! while watching Saturday morning cartoons.

Mucha Lucha! Read-a-Rama is the network's second in-school national educational reading initiative, according to the contest's Web site.

Fransico, 9, son of Annie Cullen and George Mendoza, shared the information about the reading contest with Danette Haines, the media specialist at Bester. After she downloaded contest rules from the Internet and got Principal JoAnne Hilton's approval, students were challenged to begin reading.

With Haines' help, Fransico printed forms for students to fill in about the books they read for the contest, including the date, author and illustrator.

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"He did most of the work," Haines said.

Those who participated received certificates.

The grand prize was $5,000 for the media center of the school that read the most books per student. The individual classroom within the winning school that read the most books will be featured on Kids' WB! during a Saturday morning telecast.

Between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, Bester students read 310 books. Second-grader Julia Socks read the most books (31) and Ms. Kuhn's third-grade class had the highest class total (75).

Fransico, who wants to be a teacher, chef or doctor, said he enjoys reading and read more than 15 books for the contest, most relating to his favorite subjects - dinosaurs and Komodo dragons.

"I love to read all the time," he said.

Fransico said he also likes to read bedtime stories to his younger brother and sister.

Morning announcement time was used for updates on the number of books read. Despite Fransico's effort, Bester did not end up entering the contest because some of the classes submitted their entries past the due date, Haines said.

The school still came out ahead, though, thanks to the focus on reading for the contest.

"I was just extremely proud of Fransico for taking the initiative to pursue the contest," Fransico's teacher, Kellee Smith, said.

"Fransico possesses strong leadership skills and I am confident that we will see great things from him in the future," Haines added.

Smith said that Fransico has started a reading project in their class through which students work in groups and do additional reading and writing about things they're studying in class.

"He always goes above and beyond," Smith said.

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