Washington Elementary celebrated Read Across America Day with a principal dressed head-to-toe in pink, new books and a special visit from the Cat in the Hat. Principal Brandi Young rode a scooter down the ramp from the cafeteria and around the entire group of approximately 450 children gathered on playground, as the youngsters cheered.
Young thanked the students for their efforts and the whole school applauded their achievement. She presented new books donated to classrooms on behalf of Washington Elementary families and staff.
“Back in the early fall, I asked all of my students to read their AR [Accelerated Reader] books and continuously take AR assessments weekly at their zone of Proximal Development Level,” explained Young. “I asked them to reach a school-wide goal of 5,250 AR points by Read Across America week and I would show up to school all in pink… head-to-toe!”
By morning of the Thursday, March 6, program, students had reached a total of 9850.8 points on the AR assessments.
Kindergarteners don’t take the AR tests until they have mastered their first 120 sight words, so about 400 children in first through fifth grades took the assessments. AR is a program from Renaissance Learning and is the world’s most widely used K-12 reading software, explained Young.
“It’s a way to encourage children to read more, read better books and it obviously works at our school,” she commented. “Students take a STAR Reading computer-adaptive assessment which gives our teachers a tool to help them quickly and accurately assess reading levels for their students.”
“Teachers and parents have commented to me that were never this inspired to read and take AR tests in the past,” added Young.
Young also introduced Michelle Meta, with whom she has been developing a breakfast reading program called “Read and Feed Each Day!” Meta showed the children the carts of donated library books available for the children to read in the mornings before school and talked about the program.
The books, along with board games, comics, magazines, recipes and more, will be set out for the students to read between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m.
“The goal of this project is to: ‘Help build brighter futures for our kids, schools, communities, and country by starting healthy habits early. Eating a good breakfast and reading before school sets kids up for success!'” explained Young. “Our goal is to get children to read these books every morning, before school begins.”
After the presentations, the whole school separated into established buddy reading groups for a mass read-in.
The Cat in the Hat character appeared later that morning and read to the students from the Dr. Seuss classic The Cat In The Hat.