Storied achievement: School's 'Read to Feed' program encourages a love of books while helping needy families
When the students at Lincoln Elementary School in Prescott heard they'd surpassed their reading goal, they cheered Friday morning during their Read Across America celebration. And that turned into a roar when their Principal Teresa Bruso appeared on stage in a rabbit costume to lead teachers in the Bunny Hop.
Diane Bright, librarian at Lincoln, said the students read more than double their goal of 72,000 minutes during a six-week reading program called Read to Feed that brings reading and helping the less fortunate together.
"The Lincoln Lions go way beyond the call of duty," Bruso said during the assembly. "One hundred and seventy readers read 152,640 minutes or about 2,544 hours. Congratulations. Great work. You guys should all be proud of yourselves."
Read Across America is an annual program that celebrates reading on March 2, the birthday of children's writer Dr. Seuss.
"I just finished reading 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,' and then I got to watch the movie afterwards," said Alex Cline, a third-grader who placed first for reading 9,540 minutes.
"I just like all books. I read some of the 'Wrinkle in Time' series," said Gabriel Spence, a fourth-grader who placed second for reading 7,835 minutes. "I read for two hours each night."
Paloma Ronca, a third-grader who placed third in the school for reading 7,410 minutes, said she loved reading the "Harry Potter" books and has started reading "Lord of the Rings."
Local businesses donated prizes for students who participated in the program, from free hamburgers to gift cards, Bright said.
Lincoln students and their families also donated $1,951.16 for Heifer International, a nonprofit that since 1944 has helped 9.2 million families become more self-reliant through training in agriculture and gifts of livestock, and those families are encouraged to pass along their animals' offspring to another family in need.
Tom Benson with the Sun-Up Rotary presented the students with a check for $780, bringing their donation to the nonprofit to $2,750.
"The money you raised will give families a life-changing gift of goats or other animals that will help them provide food for their children, some of them your age, and products from the milk like butter and cheese that they can sell," Benson said. "Isn't that a wonderful gift?"
Students researched the benefits each animal could bring to a family and decided they'd like some of the money they raised to help families in the Navajo Nation as well as on other continents, Bright said.
"I love that the teachers and students at Lincoln took this reading program and turned it into a service project that helps people throughout the world," Bruso said.
Over the past five years, Lincoln students have raised $17,832 for the Heifer International program, Bright said.
Kathryn Cline, a parent at the assembly, said the program got her son Alex and other students excited about reading and trying to help other people.
"It's a combination that's really important and shows them that what they do can help others," Cline said.