Reading was more than just a fun way for kids from and elementary schools to pass time this summer. It became a competition.
Thomas Bruce, principal of Hugo Reid, will shave his head Friday to celebrate his students' success at reading more books than the Holly Avenue students. Students from both schools recently came together for an ice cream social at to celebrate their hard work.
Nearly 300 students from the schools participated in a reading contest using Book Adventure, a free online resource for students to read and test their comprehension. Participants took quizzes on a total of 5,863 books.
The idea of having the students take advantage of the Book Adventure program came as a way to keep them engaged in learning over the summer even without summer school, which the axed because of budget constraints.
Michelle Holbrook, the director of education at Sylvan in San Marino, is also a parent and PTA member at both schools. She suggested that Hugo Reid take advantage of Book Adventure, which Sylvan sponsors.
“Holly Avenue got wind of it, and then their principal, Christine Blackstock called Tom Bruce over at Hugo Reid and said, 'we can do better than you.' And he said, 'Game on,'” Holbrook said.
Swetha Somasundaram, a second grader at Hugo Reid, read more books than anyone at both schools, but doesn't remember how many books she read. Her favorite books were Berenstain Bears books. When she found out she was the winner, she celebrated by reading more. As one of the top ten readers at her school, she will get to help shave Bruce's head.
Her mother, Kalpana Thiyarajan, said Somasundaram loves reading and has been doing it since she was three.
“Always she wants books,” she said. “In the bedtime, she definitely needs a bedtime story. When we are not reading to her, she will get mad at us.”
Sandra Tang, a fifth grader at Hugo Reid, had fun with the reading challenge and joined the event to help her school win the competition.
“I wanted to see Mr. Bruce shave his head,” she said.
Holly Avenue teacher Teresa Oakland said her students enjoyed the competition.
“[Holly Avenue students] want to do it again next summer because we were really disappointed that we lost. They want an early start so they can beat Hugo Reid next year,” Oakland said, laughing.