Each summer, Dr. William Gordon challenges Coventry elementary school students to read as many books as they can during vacation. When school begins, students bring in their summer reading logs to be tallied and Dr. Gordon awards $1,000 to the the school with the most books read to go towards new reading material.
This year, Western Coventry Elementary School won the challenge for the third time in a row, with the 385 students reading a total of 4,394 books.
Dr. Gordon visited the school on Friday morning to present the award and congratulate the students.
"I hope you had fun reading your books this summer and I hope that you learned something, too," said Gordon to the crowd of students that gathered in the gymnasium on Friday.
Gordon later explained that he is planning on awarding second and third prize winners next year, in order to get more students involved and determined to read as much as they can.
"We're very very excited that this generous man encourages our kids to read," said Principal Janice Sullivan. "He really is one of the most generous men I've ever met."
The money will be used to enhance the school's guided reading library, that consists of collections of books that can be read in groups by students at all reading levels.
Reading Specialist Karen Guilmette explained that the children having the necessary materials for their lessons makes all the difference when it comes to success and understanding and that Dr. Gordon's contribution is very helpful in allowing the school to be prepared.
"Last year we purchased picture books and shared reading books that help the students with their reading comprehension," she said. "We definitely use the money and we love and appreciate it."
Sullivan pointed out that without continued summer reading, students tend to fall into what she calls the "summer slump", and this contest allows the children to have a goal that reading can help them reach. A letter is sent home with report cards at the end of each school year encouraging parents to get involved in the reading process with their children.
"It is a nice, enjoyable act that parents can do with their kids," she said. "That's what we are trying to promote."
In addition to the donation that goes towards library books, Dr. Gordon also awarded Mrs. Millard's first grade class with a pizza party for reading the most books. The student with the top number from each grade also earned a school store gift certificate.
This year's top readers were:
Kindergarten: Evan-Paul Medenciy with 108 books.
First Grade: A close tie between Benjamin Carignan with 367 books and Sofia Quindazzi with 370.
Second Grade: Tiara Rochan with 67 books.
Third Grade: Jenna Farber with 100 books.
Fourth Grade: Elizabeth Lahoud with 108 books.
Fifth Grade: Sabrina Feliz with 32 books. (Keep in mind that the books get longer with each grade level.)
"We're so thankful to Dr. Gordon and we're very proud of you for working so hard reading this summer," Guilmette told the students at the end of the assembly.