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'OLI The Octopus' Kicks Off Mount Vernon Superintendent's Reading Challenge

OLI the Octopus has become the face of children's literacy in Mount Vernon. Photo Credit: Contributed
Mount Vernon elementary school students enjoyed OLI the Octopus' grand unveiling. Photo Credit: Contributed
Mount Vernon Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton and OLI the Octopus with elementary students. Photo Credit: Contributed

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon students enjoyed a surprise visitor this week as they officially kicked off Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton’s annual Reading Challenge.

At the assembly to kick off the second annual Superintendent’s Reading Challenge, students were introduced to OLI (Ongoing Literacy Challenge) the Octopus, a mascot based on a children’s book developed by Hamilton and Mount Vernon Schools Clerk Rick McCormack.

This year’s Reading Challenge began with kickoff events in each school building, featuring OLI encouraging students to embrace the event, turn off televisions and video games and open a book instead. OLI will be on hand throughout the academic year, visiting schools to check on student readers, host events and impress the importance of reading.

According to McCormack, OLI is “sure to motivate the students and help create excitement about reading across the district.”

Hamilton added that it is the responsibility of parents to help continue education outside of the classroom by encouraging their children to read at home.

“As the challenge gets underway, it is my hope that (parents) will work with children at home by reading with them, reading to them and encouraging independent reading,” he said.”

According to district officials, in its inaugural year, the Reading Challenge resulted in Mount Vernon students reading nearly 250,000 books. This year, they’re setting the bar even higher, with a goal of 300,000 books read by the end of the year. Hamilton said that parents will be able to monitor student progress on the district website.

“It was great to see so many families taking part in this great event. The level of excitement and engagement from everyone was just incredible,” Hamilton said. I see no reason why our students can’t read 300,000 books before the end of the school year.

“I have full confidence that our students will not only meet this goal, but exceed it. Over the next year, you will be able to track the progress of our students through a special counter on our district’s webpage.”

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