MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – School officials have kicked off their annual literacy initiative, which will see students attempt to read more than 200,000 pages by the end of the academic year, in an effort to encourage Mount Vernon students to read more both in and out of the classroom.
Last week, students at Hamilton Elementary School launched the second annual initiative, complete with an all-day event that included a pep rally featuring sixth grade cheerleaders and members of the district’s Hip Hop Dancers motivating the youngsters to put down the remote control and pick up a book.
Since taking over for former administrator Judith Johnson earlier this year, new Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton has made elementary literacy a district priority.
“Literacy and reading comprehension is critical toward the long-term success of our students,” he noted. “Without strong literacy skills, students will not have the basic building blocks to be successful in the later years of their education. We must instill in them, now, the importance of reading and the major role it will play in the future.”
The literacy initiative quickly became a school-wide event for teachers and students at all grade levels. Art teacher Janet Rush recreated several classic book covers in the lobby of Hamilton Elementary, while other teachers, administrators and older students hosted a series of literary games, movies, programs and events.
To improve the event, Scholastic Books donated more than 200 books, while local businesses and organizations donated prizes to encourage the students to participate. Students in grades four through six are expected to read at least six chapter books while younger students need to complete 50 books to be eligible.
According to Principal Jackie Manning Campbell, the goal is for students to top this year’s 200,000 pages read by June of next year.
“Reading outside the school day is a critical component of student achievement. As educators we can only do so much during the normal school day,” she said. “Reading outside the school day promotes vocabulary growth, which increases the rate of learning and that’s an important step toward raising student achievement.”
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