The energy was palpable in Crane Country Day School's auditorium during the recent Summer Reading Challenge assembly, when the total number of pages read during the summer break was revealed. The students and staff erupted in loud cheers that sounded like they just won a major sporting event, when Crane librarian Traci Cope announced the impressive grand total of 1,048,629 pages read.
Nearly the entire student body participated in the challenge that encouraged students in grades K-4 to read 750 or more pages and those in grades 5-8 to read a minimum of 1,000 pages during their summer vacation. All told, 227 students and 40 staff members participated.
"I couldn't be more thrilled with our schoolwide success," gushed Cope, who created the program with Upper School English teachers Lucy Lombardi and Elizabeth Teare to encourage kids to read throughout the summer. "At Crane, we believe in the power of choice."
Cope said the school intentionally allows students to pick their own books instead of handing out a prescribed list.
"I want students to choose age-appropriate material that they want to read so they will be motivated to read and form the lifelong habit of reading for pleasure," she said.
Twenty-seven students read more than 10,000 pages, which qualifies them for lunch with the head of school.
"I'm going to have to reserve a whole restaurant," joked Headmaster Joel Weiss, who said in the past there were just five kids around the table. He is thrilled with the competitive spirit and increased enthusiasm for the program.
Pulling her weight in words was eighth-grader Merith Velazquez, who read the most with 23,271 pages. Velazquez, who was charged with watching her 8-month-old sister this past summer, said she read every time the baby napped.
In close second was her classmate Charlie Corman at a stunning 23,095 pages. Although reading is clearly doing something, Corman claimed: “[I read] every time I'm not doing something." According to Cope: "The more you read, the more you know."
The youngest bookworms were first-grade students Caroline Kenny at 6,598 pages and second-grader Kate Deardorff, who surpassed the 10,000-page goal. Fourth-grade student Alesandra Powell read 17,945 pages, more than any other Lower School (K-5) student. It helps that she can read while riding in a car, which is exactly what she did when her parents drove across the country this past summer.
Another young reader was Powell’s classmate Kate Sheldon, who confessed to reading under her covers with a flashlight while at sleep-away camp, long past the “lights out" curfew. Sheldon likes her books scary and counts the Hunger Games among her favorites. She has read the trilogy twice.
The collective total of over 1 million pages read represents a 23 percent increase over last year's challenge. Students reading more than 5,000 pages included Kyle Aitcheson, Rovenna Armi, Kristian Baer, Clare Bilek, Juliette Calderon, Levi Cooper, Charlie Corman, Harry Corman, Kate Deardorff, Nafisah Fathima, Alexander Fell, Rockwood Foster, Bella Gavasse, Xander Haddock, Hana Harvey, Rosy Hernandez, Oliver Heyer, KiSea Horgan, Owen Jones, Caroline Kenny, Bella Knezevic, Kendall Kopeikin, Ryan Kopeikin, Dylan MacFarlane, Ian MacFarlane, Charlie Markham, Hannah Markham, Sophia Martin-Fouroohi, Sophie Massey, Katie Ohrn, Alesandra Powell, Melina Powell, Kimberly Rogers, John Rigsby Shelburne, Kate Sheldon, Max Sheldon, Makena Shlens, Jaeda Spence, Lizzie Spiller, Monica Stoney, Kate Spaulding, Jack Stein, Phoebe Stein, Merith Velazquez, Soren Walker, Elisabeth Weimar, Natasha Weiss, Regan Williams and Dorothy Yaqub.
Crane Country Day School is a K-8 independent school in Santa Barbara that balances intellectual rigor and creative expression to provide a more powerful learning experience. Click here for more information.
— Ann Pieramici represents Crane Country Day School.