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'Center Island' competition motivates Plum students to get reading

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Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 1:25 p.m.

Katie Kuhn looks forward to celebrating the holidays with family.

Kuhn, 12, a sixth-grader at Center Elementary School in the Plum School District, will have plenty to discuss this season — particularly with her brother and two cousins.

The Kuhn family members are teamed up on a reading incentive program at the school.

“Read to Center Island” is a competition in which three teams of students in kindergarten through sixth grade will square off with the goal of reading the most books.

To qualify, the students are required to score an 80 percent or better on the accelerated reading exam that tests students' knowledge of a book's content.

The results will be tallied weekly, and the team that has read the most books will be on Center Island.

The teams floating in the water around the island “need to read more books” Principal Jeff Hadley told students last week during an assembly to kick off the program. “It's like ‘Survivor.'”

The program will give children an incentive to read at home, said Debbie Nance, Center Elementary reading specialist.

Art teacher Jackie Ruane designed and built Center Island complete with a palm tree made of construction paper. The display is just inside the entrance to the school.

Sixth-graders on each of the three teams were given the task of coming up with a name for their respective groups.

The three teams comprise students in each of the grades.

The teams will be changed at the beginning of each grading period throughout the school year. Hadley plans to announce the winning team at the end of each contest.

The youngsters cheered during the assembly as Hadley announced the team members.

So far this year, the 400 students have read more than 2,000 books that include more than 30 million words, Hadley said.

“When you read, you fill your mind with all kinds of information,” Hadley said.

“No one can take it away from you. Reading will help you with everything else you do for the rest of your life.”

Adam Lewis, 12, a sixth-grader, looks forward to the competition.

“It will help kids be creative and read more books,” Lewis said.

Anthony Napoleon, 11, a sixth-grader who enjoys reading fantasy books, said the contest will motivate his classmates.

“It will be very competitive,” Napoleon said.

Hadley looks for the competition to motivate students to read more as well as increase their enjoyment of reading and their performance on the reading portion of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exam in the spring.

“I want kids to feel learning is fun,” Hadley said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or




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