Craig students making strides in Passport to Reading

Barbecue event for top readers scheduled for May 9

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If the paperwork they currently have in their possession were the real thing, the elementary students of Moffat County School District could have traveled the world a dozen times while collecting documentation of their trip. But, rather than dealing with luggage, currency exchanges and lines at airport customs departments, they’ve been able to go just as many places without ever leaving their own hometown.

The current stamp count for the Passport to Reading program for local fourth and fifth grade book lovers is 2,663. Each stamp represents a book read by a student collected in a special mock passport that details their individual journey across the many genres of literature.

With about 350 kids spread across the four local elementary schools, the goal for this, the second year of the program, is to reach 7,000 stamps total, 20 stamps per student, the requisite number of genre entries for a child to attain in order to attend the celebratory barbecue near the end of the school year.

Reaching the 7,000 mark also means the program will receive additional funding from Friends of Moffat County Education, Rotary Club of Craig and the Human Resources Council of Moffat County United Way. In fall 2013, the school libraries received about 100 books apiece bought with funds earned from last year’s program.

James Neton, organizer for Passport to Reading, said the count at the moment has both good and bad sides to it.

“Ideally, we’d like to have more than 50 percent by the middle of the year,” he said.

On the other hand, 2,663 exceeds where students were last year at this time, he said. The final tally for last year was 5,733 stamps out of a target of 6,300.

And, since many students pushed themselves more as the deadline approached last year, Neton expects things will unfold the same way in the weeks to come.

“We’ll definitely be seeing a little bump in the numbers later on,” he said.

Readers will have until May 6 to achieve as many stamps as they can, with the end-of-year barbecue on May 9, a little sooner than last year so as not to interfere with the many activities schools offer in the final days of classes.

Sandrock Elementary School fourth-grader Holden Beckett is up to the challenge, at the moment only seven stamps away from getting his ticket to the barbecue, which includes plentiful prizes for the top readers, one of which he hopes to claim out of all the kids in his school.

“I want to be the Most Improved Reader,” he said. “I’ve read a ton of books that I wouldn’t have before.”

Each school will name a selection for the reader who’s come the furthest in their literary skills over the course of the year. The design of Passport to Reading is to challenge students to try new subjects and broaden their horizons.

For Beckett, sports books were easy to get through. Historical fiction and biographies, not so much.

Right now, he’s working his way through a memoir of George Washington.

“I know he was a president,” Beckett said. “That’s as far as I’ve gone.”

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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