Read all about it: Craig schools shatter records during Passport to Reading |

Read all about it: Craig schools shatter records during Passport to Reading

Lauren Dodd/For Craig Press
Sunset Elementary School fourth-grader Devon Bollman celebrates his victory during a round of games at the 10th annual Passport to Reading barbecue Wednesday at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion. More than 200 kids qualified for the program's event by reading a record amount of books.
Lauren Dodd

A record-breaking number of Moffat County fourth- and fifth-grade students took a break from school to celebrate their accomplishment of reading more than 10,000 books this year. 

Sunset Elementary School fourth-grader Tristen Davidson jumps with excitement during a rousing game of “Over the Mountain” at the 10th annual Passport to Reading barbecue celebration.
Lauren Dodd

The students were praised for their scholastic achievement at the 10th annual Passport to Reading barbecue at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion Wednesday, sponsored by Craig Rotary Club.

Surpassing all previous years, 251 students qualified to attend the barbecue by reading, and passing the accompanying reading tests, for at least 20 books selected from 20 different literary genres.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students dance to a kid-friendly version of DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” at the Passport to Reading barbecue in celebration of reading a record-breaking number of books this school year.
Lauren Dodd

In all, the fourth- and fifth-grade students read a record-breaking 10,817 books during the 2018-19 school year.

“This is by far the most (students) we’ve ever had,” Rotarian Randy Looper said. “We varied from our lowest in 2015 at 70 to the most in 2013 when we had 150, so 250 is totally amazing.”

The decade-old tradition dedicated to improving students’ love of varied reading genres takes a village to orchestrate, Passport to Reading chair Tilila Gunderson said. 

“The school district has been wonderful in promoting this program and that shows by the amazing amount of students that qualified this year,” Gunderson said. “But none of this would happen if it weren’t for the teachers. They are such an important part of this.”

Craig Rotary Club volunteers donated and prepared the food, she said, including nearly 200 burgers and 250 hot dogs, and donated funds so school libraries could replenish weaknesses in their collections. 

Rotarian Len Browning begins grilling 200 burgers for the 10th annual Passport to Reading barbecue sponsored by the Craig Rotary Club.
Lauren Dodd

“Next year, it’s poetry, they figured out they don’t have nearly enough poetry books,” Looper said. “It’s a two-part thing; it’s great for the libraries and it’s great for the kids. It’s just wonderful.”

Gunderson said she learned to love the Passport to Reading program after watching her daughter, now a high school freshman, expand her literary palette and discover her love of non-fiction books.

“She’s still a non-fiction girl,” she said. 

Now, thanks to Passport to Reading, she said her fifth-grade son uncovered his love of science-fiction novels.

“This is just a great program, because we promote so many different genres so they can try new things and really learn what they like,” she said. 

After a round of games and shenanigans at the Pavilion, the students headed outdoors to have lunch and collect their prizes Wednesday. 

Sunset Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Erin Knez shows her students how to do the “Carlton” dance during a series of games at the 10th annual Passport to Reading barbecue.
Lauren Dodd

Wendy Seely’s fourth grade class at Sunset Elementary School was honored with prizes from Downtown Books for reading the most books this school year.

Sunset fifth-grader Patrick Neton read a total of 35 books earning him the title of Grand Champion and a brand-new Kindle Fire, protective case and a $25 Amazon gift card.

Ridgeview Elementary’s Charles Berkey, Sandrock Elementary’s Lexington Bergstrom, and Sunset’s Peyton Ely were named Champions of their respective schools and were also rewarded with new Kindle Fires.

Three first runner-up students selected from each school received a 2019 copy of the “Guinness Book of World Records.” The prize for second runners-up was a 2018 copy of the record book. Third runner-up students were given a copy of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”

Other Passport to Reading sponsors include Friends of Moffat County Education, Craig Press and the Moffat County Resource Council.

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