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Reading Olympics declared open at Southmoreland Primary

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Paul Paterra | The Independent-Observer
Heather Overly (left) and Alisha Lackey march in with the flag from Japan
Paul Paterra | The Independent-Observer
Tori Gammel and Skyler Shipley hold the British flag.
Paul Paterra | The Independent-Observer
Edan Whipkey sports the torch in front of fellow first-graders Elizabeth Boone and Ryan Miklos.

The Olympic theme recently can be heard played quite proudly at Southmoreland Primary Center.

Students marched into the multi-purpose room behind the flags of many of the world's countries. The “Olympic Torch” was passed from “country to country” as students cheered wildly.

However, this was not meant to trigger an athletic endeavor. This was the opening ceremony for the school's Reading Olympics.

“The SPC Reading Olympics have officially begun,” declared teacher Jessica Glowacki.

The Olympics are the school's reading project for the 2013-14 school year.

Glowacki and teacher Amy Pushkis explained the Olympic theme was chosen this year in conjunction with the Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to begin Feb. 7 in Sochi, Russia. They have been involved with the reading program, along with fellow teacher Patty DeBiasio.

“In past years, we've done a six-week reading program,” Pushkis explained. “Students tried to read as many books as they can in a six-week period. We decided that's not creating the life-long learning and the love for reading, so we decided to change it to a ‘read across the year.' Every day we're encouraging kindergarten students to read for 10 minutes and first-grade students 20 minutes a day, to read every day over the course of (the project).”

Glowacki added the reading project is being done in conjunction with Pizza Hut's Book-It program.

“We have a goal set for each grade level and if they meet that goal they earn the Pizza Hut certificate through Book-It and their minutes are adding up to earn the medals, the gold, the silver and the bronze at the end of our Olympics,” she said.

Those will be awarded at the closing ceremony planned for the spring.

Part of the opening ceremony involved primary center students marching in behind a country's flag that was carried by high school students involved in the Reading Buddies program.

Students will study various aspects of the country that they marched behind throughout the school year.

“Each group independently is studying their own country doing different thematic activities,” Glowacki said.

Students from the high school's Youth Education Association presented a video to their primary center colleagues.

Principal Dan Clara explained having a year-long program will allow the students the time to enjoy the books they're reading a bit more and comprehend them better.

“Sometimes when we start new activities, we're really excited about it,” Clara said to the students. “Sometimes, we try to do it all at once. We try to do it all very quickly. Reading across the year is a little bit different. We're going to spend a lot more time and we're really going to enjoy reading and not try to rush through it. We really want you to think about what books you're reading and who you want might want to read to and who you might want to read to you and enjoy it. It's not a race. It's actually all about learning.”

The school's teachers and staff took the reading pledge to offer their support of the students as this project progresses.

“As we're doing it we're thinking of more things,” Glowacki said.

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or