WASHINGTON TERRACE -- Student at T.H. Bell Junior High are helping students across the nation get books of their own simply by reading books themselves.
Students in Kellie Lopaz's Scholastic reading classes are participating in a program called "Classrooms Care," sponsored by book publisher Scholastic to help get kids reading and also give disadvantaged kids more books.
Lopaz got her students going with the national program about four years ago and her students have become better readers because of it. Students commit to reading a certain number of books and when they meet that goal, Scholastic donates 100 books in T.H. Bell's name to children across the nation.
Lopaz has 50 students participating whose goal is to read 10 books each by Dec. 17 for a total of 500 books. Lopaz gives students a bookmark with 10 spots on it that has to be filled out by the deadline day. They've been working on the project since the beginning of the school year. Other schools in the state are also participating and the statewide goal is 42,652 books, Lopaz said.
Lopaz has been impressed with the response of her students this year. After so many books are read they get to put their name or if it's a class effort the class name up on a special poster that notates progress.
Jeff Christensen is one of the few students with his name on the stars all by itself. The simple reason for him: He absolutely loves reading.
"I can be sitting on my couch and then all of a sudden I can be in space," Jeff said. He already has read more than 20 books for the service project and doesn't plan to stop any time soon.
He likes the fact that he can pick any book, besides a simple picture book, to read.
"We already decided there would be no Dr. Seuss books," he said with a laugh.
Mack Kearns has enjoyed the program and admits he likes it when the class reads together. He has enjoyed non-fiction books that class has read about historical figures like Frederick Douglass, he said. He also likes the idea that he is helping others by simply reading.
"I think it would be harsh if you didn't have all these books to read when you wanted," the ninth-grader said.
Some of Lopaz's students who struggle with reading or who don't really love reading have made great progress. The class is set up through Scholastic to help kids get on the right reading track. That's how she found out about the Classrooms Care program.
"Now they just send me the stuff every year and we do it," she said of the program. She likes the service project because it takes something her students already need to be doing and gives them extra incentive and reward for doing so. She sees that for her students the service is a great reward for them.
"It already encompasses something they need to be doing and it helps them and others," she said. The students have a ways to go to meet their goal in the next five weeks, but Lopaz and her students aren't worried.
"Oh we will definitely be able to do it," Mack said with a smile.