Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Anna Gilliam was crowned Reading Is Great in Summer, or RIGS, queen this year for reading 17,592 minutes during the annual assembly Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Anna Gilliam was crowned Reading Is Great in Summer, or RIGS, queen this year for reading 17,592 minutes during the annual assembly Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School in Soldotna, Alaska.

Page turners: students show their love of reading

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Sunday, September 18, 2016 8:16pm
  • NewsSchools

Minutes turned into hours and hours for the 95 students who sat down and picked through piles of their favorite titles this summer.

At Kalifornsky Beach Elementary’s annual RIGS, or Reading Is Great in Summer, assembly, longtime teacher and co-founder of the program Gloria Sweeney announced that this summer kids in kindergarten through sixth grade racked up 239,409 of reading time.

Anyone who read more than 900 minutes, and there were many, received a new book, t-shirt and some public applause at the Friday assembly in the school gymnasium.

Sweeney, who helped Gretchen Bagley emcee the assembly, said RIGS helps reinforce “how important reading is to be a success in the world,” and teaches the essential skill early on. The program quickly became a staple on and off the school calendar.

Staff and students have been recording their reading hours for RIGS for 14 years, Sweeney said. Some students, like this year’s sixth graders Joseph Whittom, Evan Appelhans, Ethan Hogue and Karley Johnson, have shown their dedication to the pastime by participating in RIGS every year since they were first graders, she said.

First grade is when students really start feeling comfortable and getting through stories comes much more easily for them, she said.

Sometimes the younger readers may still need a little extra help to get through the tougher tales.

Kindergartner Uriah Smith stood in front of his peers alone Friday as the only one in his grade to log more than 900 minutes during his summer vacation.

“A kindergartener is usually read to by their parents, but it still counts because it is exposure to books which is a very important pre-reading skill,” Sweeney said.

From there, Bagley went on to honor each grade for their recreational reading with a school wide drum roll.

When she got to the fourth graders Bagley said “I don’t think you are going to believe your ears when I tell you,” for their 49,735 recorded reading minutes. Then it came to the fifth graders, though, who logged more time reading than any other grade with 85,420 minutes.

“I do it too and it’s hard to remember to write down all your minutes down,” Bagley said.

The many teachers that participated were honored as well, and combined read for 142,117 minutes, bringing the school total to 381,526.

When Sweeney took over again, she announced there would be even more prizes to give away that day.

Emilia Rodriguez, Lathan Peterson, Anna Gilliam, Hally Hanson and Colton Dunham were handed medals for reading more than 10,000 minutes this summer. Gilliam also received a coveted white boa and was crowned the new queen of reading for logging 17,592 minutes, the most out of any student at the school.

“I did the math and we had 83 days to read this summer,” Sweeny said.

That means Gilliam must have read 212 minutes or 3 hours and 53 minutes every single day for her entire vacation to record so much reading, she said.

“That is a lot,” Sweeney said. “How on earth did you do that?”

Quietly into the microphone Gilliam said she read a huge variety of books, and didn’t remember many of the titles.

“I had nothing else to do,” she said with a small laugh.

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Gretchen Bagley announces how many reading hours first graders logged this summer for the RIGS program during the annual assembly Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Gretchen Bagley announces how many reading hours first graders logged this summer for the RIGS program during the annual assembly Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School in Soldotna, Alaska.

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