Attaining the level of ear-splitting decibels heard only at an Iron Maiden concert, students at Carlson Elementary School cheered on relay-race participants at their annual read-a-thon fund-raiser races.
Over the course of the PTA fund-raiser’s four-year history, the students have doled out raucous amounts of enthusiasm and excitement as teachers battled students in a series of contests in the school gym.
While not lacking in esprit de corps, the fund-raiser, which the PTA uses to help pay for field trips, has suffered in participation and total funds raised. This year, participants brought in $800, compared with the $9,626 raised its first year.
“I think participation has been lower this year, which could be a sign of the economy,” said Carlson principal Marcia Jochim. “… I don’t want to believe that we’ve done it so many times that people aren’t interested in it, because the kids really look forward to it.”
The fund-raiser works like this: A student tracks the amount of time spent reading during the contest period and finds sponsors willing to donate money for the reading achievements.
The top 30 students are selected to participate in the races against the teachers — and of those, six win a variety of prizes and gift cards, while the top three this year won an Amazon Kindle digital reader.
This year, only 22 students participated in the read-a-thon, so the school allowed all of them to participate in the relay races.
With the appropriate level of zeal, kindergarten teacher Jessica Grigg orchestrated the events from a microphone, while a handful of teachers and the students battled it out in front of the school’s remaining students.
Grigg said a host of other fund-raisers occurred around the same time and likely affected this year’s read-a-thon participation. However, those who participated did so in a big way. Grigg said first place went to a third-grader who read for 7,319 minutes.
“I know his mom was concerned he was staying up really late because he kept reading, and she was worried he was going to be too tired for school,” Grigg said.
Second place went to another third-grader who logged 7,000 minutes.
“This year we decided to do Kindles as prizes, and I think that kind of amped up the participation as far as how much they read,” Grigg said. “Those that wanted it, really really wanted it.”
Grigg said that despite the drop in participation this year, the event still offers fun and reading motivation. The event date probably will be moved next year so it doesn’t compete with other fund-raisers.
“Kids that might not be a sports extraordinaire, but if they’re a reader, this is something that they can excel at and something that they can achieve,” Grigg said.