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District's summer program promotes reading

On a sunny Wednesday morning in July, Makenzi Mattson sits in front of a computer at Paperjack Elementary.

She is taking a test based on a book she just finished reading as part of the Accelerated Reading (AR) Incentive Program.

With her dad and Title I Reading Teacher Jan Strandemo looking on, 10-year-old Makenzi aces her test. A score of 80 percent or better is required to pass each test.

After high fives all around, Makenzi chooses a prize and the next book on her list to read. She has her summer reading list all picked out ahead of time.

Makenzi is just one of many students who have been coming to Paperjack every Wednesday between 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. to rack up reading points for this coming fall.

By reading over the summer and taking the follow-up tests, kids are able to bank some AR points and get a jump on the school year.

Students from first grade through high school are required to earn a certain number of AR points during the school year. The number depends on the grade level.

"It's such a long summer and we wanted to keep kids reading," explained Title I teacher Shannon Averill. "Studies show that students can lose levels of reading over the summer months."

Although the AR Program was spearheaded by Strandemo, all Title I reading teachers in the District take turns helping students at Paperjack on Wednesdays.

"The kids like the program," Strandemo said. "They like the instant feedback they get by taking the quizzes on the computer and they like to be challenged."

This is the first year the AR Program will be District-wide. Previously it was only at the Middle School and Paperjack Elementary, but due to classroom changes with Hillside Elementary opening this fall, all District buildings will have their own AR Program.

Some weeks in the library at Paperjack Elementary have been busier than others this summer, Averill said. Last week there were eight kids who visited the AR Program on Wednesday.

Many students participating are young readers, added Averill, kindergartners, first and second graders. There have been kids as old as middle school coming through on Wednesdays.

Students may check out books from the public library, read books from their shelves at home or check out books online at They are allowed to read whenever and wherever they choose. Youngsters only need to visit the elementary school on Wednesdays to take the tests and pick up their prizes. Kids may also speak with reading teachers during the designated Wednesday times if desired.

The District reading teachers encourage children to read books that are appropriate for them based on genre, grade level and readability. If students are not certain which books are appropriate for them, the teachers are willing to provide guidance.

The AR Program will continue each Wednesday at Paperjack Elementary until Aug. 13.