It started as an experiment to improve fall reading remediation by encouraging kids to read during the summer. Twelve years ago Gloria Sweeney and her cohorts at K-Beach Elementary tagged it RIGS (Reading Is Great in Summer) and every fall crown a king or queen of reading among the summer reading participants at all grade levels K-6. “It’s evolved into a big celebration each fall thanks to the incentives by our sponsors. The Soldotna Rotary Club that provides t-shirts for each child every year, VFW Auxiliary and Tesoro provide two books and book marks for the kiddos. It was part of our masters program because we discovered that over the summer students reading skills regressed and we wanted to do something to avoid that regression even a little bit that it would make a huge difference in the students performance in the fall,” explained Sweeney.
This year’s Queen of Reading at K-Beach is 6th grader Samantha Dorsey who read over 20,000 minutes and still had time go fishing and have other summer fun, “It’s helped a lot my reading lexile level has improved over 100 points from last year,” said her royal highness Samantha confessing that the program has fueled her love for reading and especially fiction. Total minutes read this summer by RIGS participants was 356,981. Meanwhile the summer reading incentive program was launched for the first time last summer at Redoubt Elementary School and according to Principal John Pothast, “We had 25 students who filled out their log and turned it in this fall, but this was our first year initiating the summer reading program and it was about what we expected. The kids that participated had a fun time and learned a lot and we expect it to grow next year and our top reader this year Emily Ehret logged in 11,635 minutes and reading is a great activity to engage their brains over the long summer,” said Pothast.
Additionally at the reading awards assembly at Redoubt the kids having met a fund raising challenge by Mr. Pothast were allowed to “string” their Principal and his assistant, “The top fund raisers in each classroom got a can of silly string spray and they really gave it to us, but the kids did a great job and raised over $20,000 that will get us some needed technology and smart boards for the school, so it was a lot of fun for a great cause,” he said.