Rachel Patterson awards readers

Published 7:26 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005

By By Lee Weyhrich
Rachel Patterson Elementary School is taking children from books to bikes as part of a program to promote accelerated reading.
The program allows top readers from each grade a chance to win a bicycle.
"Children starting in kindergarten are taking accelerated reading," Principal Beth Drew said. "In the library we just have a lot of books. We have some that are called accelerated books. Each one has a test. You take a test; the test may have five questions. The books are each awarded a point value. Kindergarten books might be half a point. Say a book is worth point-five points and the test has five questions. If the child gets four correct they just get point-four points. They only get full credit if they get 100 on every test."
At the end of the year all the points are tallied and the best readers receive bicycles.
"We take the two top students in each grade and give them a bicycle," Drew said. "We also take all the children who have perfect attendance, the ones that have shown the most improvement and those showing citizenship and draw their names from a hat. We give away six bicycles for those categories, a boy and girl in each category. We also give a bike to a boy and a girl in each grade."
The program started two years ago. Back then only the top two readers in the whole school received bikes because the school could only afford to buy two bicycles.
"Barbara Hastings became instrumental," Drew said. "She took it over and got the donations. There is no way I would have had the time to do this without her. We were kind of small doing it (before she got here). Without her there was no way we could have gotten it to the point it is today."
Hastings got involved with the program a year ago with her husband William and immediately set out to make sure as many children could benefit from it as possible.
"We got involved last year," Hastings said. "We bought half of them last year and then we collected money from businesses in the area (to pay for the rest) and then we went to Wal-Mart and bought them."
This year the Hastings' bought all of the bikes themselves.
"We've obligated ourselves to 38," Hastings said. "We've got 12 at the school now and we've got the others in boxes and are putting those together. We own a trucking company and we have a driver that took six of them to put together this weekend for us. His name is Carl Staples and he has a little boy over there."
The Hastings were originally going to take donations as they had in the past, but while doing some after-Thanksgiving shopping they found a deal they couldn't pass up.
"This year the bikes were on sale for $25 a piece, so we just went ahead and got them," Hastings said. "We can do that every year and we can afford it and these kids put in all that effort. If you reward those children it means something to them and that's something they won't forget."
Only half the bikes will go to accelerated readers. The rest will go to special needs children who have put in a lot of effort, but who will never be accelerated readers for one reason or another.
"I asked her how many she needed for accelerated readers and however many over we get can go to the special needs children," Hastings said. "The children that are in these special ed classes, they'll never be able to read on the same level as some of these other kids. The best improved and the children who have applied themselves and met their goals get put into a drawing for these bikes."
Hastings and her husband took a special interest in helping special needs children after they adopted three children from an abusive home two years ago.
"I'm 49 and we adopted all three of them two years ago, they're 14, nine and four," Hastings said. "They needed a home, they're brothers and sisters and I adopted them. The middle child, Bill, is never going to be an accelerated reader. If you have a child like that in your home that you are raising and care about that means something to you."
Providing for special needs children was a consideration ever since Hastings got involved.
"Last year they gave away a boys and girls bike for each grade," Hastings said. "I think she (Drew) gave away 12 and the rest went to special ed. There was one child who was in a wheelchair last year and couldn't ride a bicycle and we went to B&B Western Wear and they provided free T-shirts."
Hastings believes giving children positive motivation is important in the life of any child.
"It's an incentive to give a child and it's important that they receive something," she said. "I think the staff at Rachel Patterson is a good staff and it's a good school and I think it's wonderful what they do for their kids."

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox