Fictional characters lined the bleachers of Tom Landry Stadium on Tuesday for Mission Consolidated Independent School District’s inaugural summer reading kick-off.
Students, teachers, staff and administrators donned the attire of their favorite book characters. From the Mad Hatter to the Three Little Pigs, children’s book personalities mingled with one another throughout the morning.
Superintendent Ricardo Lopez said the importance of the rally is to get the students excited about summer reading. According to research, students lose a portion of their education skill set during the summer. In order to battle what is known as the summer slide, Mission school district is promoting summer reading.
“We’re trying to build personal libraries at home,” Lopez said. “But we can’t just hand them the books, we’ve got to do something to get them pumped and let them know how important this is.”
Each student went home with two grade-appropriate books, in addition to a third book that was already given to them – “The World According to Humphrey.”
While at the assembly, Patricia O’Caña-Olivarez, attorney and school board president, read “Sara Rose, Kid Lawyer” to the stadium while dressed in her judicial robe. A number of city representatives spoke to the crowd about the importance of reading and how it will help their future.
“Events like this have always been important, but we’ve never come together and as a district and done anything so big,” said Ruby Rodriguez, Waitz Elementary School principal. “Maybe we’ve done little things on our campus, but never so massive. This is important so everyone knows that we’re all in this together.”
The literacy rate in the Rio Grande Valley ranks among the lowest in Texas. According to the most recent study by the National Center for Educational Statistics, 50 percent of adults in Hidalgo are illiterate.
“Reading is fundamental. With books you can learn so much,” said Chris Valdez, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “So let’s all unite to change the worlds, like one book with Ramona Quimby did for me. One book can be the fundamental thing that can help change our lives.”
At the end of the event, staff members from each school participated in the Books Come Alive Parade. Each school competed for a monetary prize for the campus library budget. In first was Waitz Elementary, which received $5,000. In second place was Escobar/Rios Elementary, which received $3,000. Third place was Salinas Elementary, which received $1,000.
The Waitz library, formerly the cafeteria, is the largest elementary library in the district. The original cafeteria didn’t meet requirements, so another was built, and the space became the new library. Although the area is large, it needs some sprucing up, according to Rodriguez. The principal said she plans to invest the prize money into shelving and Spanish books for the students.
The Champion of Book Reading award went to Cavazos Elementary for reading more than 60,000 books. They were awarded a customary book display known as the Big Book Trophy, which was crafted by the maintenance department. The trophy will be a traveling prize for the elementary school whose students read the most books through the online and Accelerated Reading programs.
“In Mission, we read to lead,” Lopez said. “The foundation is literacy. This is just the way to celebrate it.”