Mission CISD students broke a record on May 17 with the largest choral reading in south Texas. About 5,800 students gathered at Tom Landry Stadium for the second annual Reading Rally to kick off their summer reading activities. Together, the students, teachers, visiting parents and visiting high school students read a short story about football.
Mission CISD began the reading initiative to combat the summer slide, which is when students lose progress they’ve made during the school year because they don’t continue academic activities. The summer slide has a greater effect on English language learners, according to a 2013 study called Locating Learning: Second Language gains and language use in family, peer and classroom contexts.
Last year, the students were given three books to read during the summer. This year, the students selected their own grade-appropriate books online. When they return to school in the fall, they may take an Accelerated Reader test to earn their school points. The top three schools with the most AR tests wins more money in their budget for the following year.
This year’s top three AR campuses and their monetary prizes are:
- Cavazos Elementary – $5,000
- Bryan Elementary – $4,000
- Leal Elementary – $3,000
Cavazos Principal Fidel Garza said the funds will go toward expanding the book selection and equipping the library with research centers.
The MCISD principal of one year said the campus library is open before school until 5 p.m. every day. In addition, Cavazos Elementary has parent reading nights twice a week and the students are also tested on those books.
“I’m a firm believer that the AR is very closely related to testing at the end of the year,” Garza said. “If they read the chapter books and novels, then they’re able to have the stamina for the end-of-the-year testing.”
At the rally, the students and teachers from each elementary donned costumes based on a specific book they selected. The teachers then marched on the field in the Once Upon a Time Parade, also known as the Books Come Alive Parade, for a chance at winning the Big Book Trophy. The trophy is a customary book display, which was crafted by the maintenance department.
The parade winner for this year was Waitz Elementary for their recreation of The Magic School Bus, a series of books that features Ms. Frizzle and her students as they explore impossible locations on her morphing school bus.
Waitz Principal Ruby Rodriguez said her staff is already thinking about what to do for next year’s book.
Last year, Waitz was the $5,000 winner and they used their money to furnish their library and buy Spanish books.
At the Reading Rally, coaches Koy Detmer and David Gilpin from Mission High School and Veterans Memorial served as guest readers. They stressed the importance of reading for any career the students may seek as adults.
“I want to encourage you to get into books, to find reading fun,” Detmer said. “Find something that you enjoy and have a passion for, read about it, learn about it and go chase your dreams.”