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Paul Paterra | The Independent-Observer - Edan Whipkey sports the torch in front of fellow first-graders Elizabeth Boone and Ryan Miklos.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Paul Paterra | The Independent-Observer</em></div>Edan Whipkey sports the torch in front of fellow first-graders Elizabeth Boone and Ryan Miklos.
Paul Paterra | The Independent-Observer - Heather Overly (left) and Alisha Lackey march in with the flag from Japan
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Paul Paterra | The Independent-Observer</em></div>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.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Paul Paterra | The Independent-Observer</em></div>Tori Gammel and Skyler Shipley hold the British flag.

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Reader's Pledge

I promise to read

Each day and each night

I know it's the key

To growing up right.

I'll read to myself

I'll read to a crowd

It makes no difference

If silent or loud

I'll read at my desk

At home or at school

On my bean bag or bed

By the fire or pool

Each book that I read

Puts smarts in my head

‘Cause brains grow more thoughts

The more they are fed.

So I take this oath

To make reading my way

Of feeding my brain

What it needs every day.

Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Olympic theme was proudly played at Southmoreland Primary Center.

Students marched into the multipurpose 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,” teacher Jessica Glowacki declared.

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

Glowacki and teacher Amy Pushkis explained that the Olympic theme was chosen this year in conjunction with the Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to begin on Feb. 7 in Sochi, Russia. The duo has 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 lifelong 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 that 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 that having a yearlong program will allow the students 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 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 to the students as the 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

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