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Reading Celebrations In Draper Schools

Mar 20, 2015 01:46PM ● Published by Julie Slama

Jazz player Trey Burke read to students at St. John the Baptist Elementary School as part of the “Be a Team Player, Read!” reading initiative. Photo courtesy of Nevah Stevenson

A chance to play ball with Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke or listen to him read a story was the reward for reading for St. John the Baptist elementary students.

St. John the Baptist, Draper Elementary and American Preparatory Academy all are placing an emphasis on reading and literacy, which administrators say will help them with their studies and their future.

St. John participated in a three-week Jazz Reading Initiative “Be a Team Player, Read!” where students recorded the number of minutes read outside of the school day. Administrators encouraged students to read by treating one class from each grade who read the greatest number of minutes to lunch with their administrators at Juan Diego Catholic High School.

“Our students read a lot,” St. John Director of Advancement Nevah Stevenson said. “We were just shy of 600,000 minutes. They’re really motivated to read when they know a Jazz player could come to the school and our parents are great supporters of reading and of the program.”

On Feb. 24, Burke played lightning with some students and read “If Kids Ran the World” by Leo and Diane Dillon and “Clark the Shark” by Bruce Hale to the entire school. He autographed the books which will be placed in the library.

Burke also answered student’s questions ranging from his favorite sports team outside of the Jazz (San Francisco 49ers) to his favorite subjects (math and literature) when he was a student at University of Michigan.

This is the fifth year St. John has hosted a Jazz player appearance with the reading program.

Draper Elementary held its annual literacy week March 2-6 and invited in guest readers to read to each class one of their favorite children’s stories. 

Principal Piper Riddle said the goal of 75,000 minutes read outside of class time was set for the week after students surpassed last year’s goal of 50,000 minutes.

“It’s a fun week and we include it during Dr. Seuss’s birthday so we can recognize his great literature,” Riddle said. “Many of our classes highlight literacy and the importance it has in our daily lives. We really want to encourage recreational reading so students read for the joy of reading.”

To celebrate at the end of the week, an assembly was held where faculty and staff lip-synced to songs, which students could read along with or even help sing. Books were given to several top readers in each grade as well.

American Preparatory Academy has its Reading University all year.

With a list for each grade in elementary and a secondary school and more than 250 books in each classroom available for check-out, students keep a log of those they’ve read. Each elementary grade level has a certain number of books to read per term, such as eight for first grade or five for third grade, and as a reward for accomplishing that reading time, students may select small prizes such as bookmarks, erasers and even, ice cream.

However, APA District Librarian Lori Stephenson said those who may be honored for reading are elementary readers who exceed the expectations in some way. Each month, one student per class in each grade from each campus will receive a certificate at an assembly.

Reading isn’t limited to awards at APA. Bulletin boards may show teacher recommendations for books or may have students trying to match a favorite book to a teacher. An after-school book club at the Draper 2 campus, author visits and a chance to read books to vote in new books to the Reading University list add to the encouragement of reading. Students also are encouraged to read non-fiction books that tie into science and history, she said.

“Literature is a great way to teach things,” Stephenson said. “For example, you can’t be a good writer if you’re not exposed to great writing. The best way to teach vocabulary is through contextual reading. We ask the students to please read from the Reading University list first, then they can read other books they may want.”    
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