NewsOK.com | September 28, 2017
By Tim Willert
Johnson Elementary students were recognized Wednesday for logging nearly 60,000 minutes of reading time over the summer, a period when learning often takes a back seat to other activities.
Fifth-graders Kimberly Mazariegos and Jenna Ibarra were among the top readers at Johnson, one of three elementary schools in the Oklahoma City district to log more than 50,000 reading minutes during the summer break.
The school topped the list of schools with 59,802 minutes.
Kimberly preferred the Baby-Sitter's Club series, which she said helped "me read better to get to a sixth-grade level."
Jenna enjoyed reading about Sherlock Holmes, the well-known private detective.
"I read a lot of books," she said.
As part of the ReadOKC initiative launched in May by the Oklahoma City Schools Compact, district students were encouraged to read 1,200 minutes during their summer break, an average of 20 minutes per day.
About 150 children exceeded the goal of 1,200 minutes. Overall, elementary school students registered about 800,000 reading minutes, nearly three times more than the previous summer, said Mary Melon, president of The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
"The overreaching mission of Read OKC is to cultivate the love of reading among our students," she said. "Students who love to read are going to read on their own. The more they read the more successful they're going to be."
Adams Elementary students were recognized Monday for reading 57,532 minutes while Rancho Village Elementary students will be honored Thursday with a celebration assembly for reading 50,711 minutes.
Similar assemblies will take place at 54 elementary schools over the next two weeks, Melon said.
"Every school has top readers we are recognizing," she said. "Hopefully, by doing that it encourages all of our students to take up reading."
The emphasis on summer reading is part of a broader literacy effort led by the Compact and its partners: the city, Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, United Way, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and Oklahoma City Public Schools.
Energy soccer, Dodgers baseball and Thunder basketball teams helped promote the Get in the Game reading initiative. Students benefited from the Oklahoma City Public Schools Reading Room inside Penn Square Mall; myON, a digital reading platform available to district elementary school students; and relaxed check-out policies at Metro libraries.
"This is definitely a program that will continue," Superintendent Aurora Lora said Wednesday at Johnson, where the top readers received backpacks filled with school supplies and a new book.
"We had a great first year and we've set an even bigger goal for next year."