Fourteen years ago Gloria Sweeney and other K-Beach Elementary teachers working on the masters created a program known as RIGS (Reading Is Great in Summer.) First graders who were the first RIGS participants are now sophomores in college and according to Sweeney underscore the success of the summer program for remedial reading skills, “It would be interesting to follow up with those students, I have kept the records from all those years so I can look back to the beginning and see the progress of our readers at that time. Since the beginning we did tabulate reading scores to see if it was making a difference and it was amazing as we saw them with a two month jump when they returned to school in the fall,” she said.
The younger readers dominated the RIGS program this year with the “Queen of Reading” being third grader Grace Hallam totaling up 5,600 minutes, “My favorite book was Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but being crowned queen was kind of embarrassing,” said Queen Grace at her RIGS coronation. Meanwhile, Soldotna Elementary inaugurated a summer reading program for the first time this year called SMORE’S (Summer Months are Open for Reading Everywhere.) Ms. Baktuit organized a SMORE’S committee at Soldotna El as well as a very entertaining assembly that showed kids that all their heroes love to read as well, “We wanted to get across to the kids that just because it’s summer learning shouldn’t stop and if we keep on reading over the summer our skills keep climbing, plus that it is such a fun thing to do in the summer while on the beach or camping to pull out a book and get reading to keep our mind muscles working. We brought in community heroes to let the kids see that everyone reads in the summer and that it’s important for whatever job you have in the community reading will be an integral part of what they’re doing,” she said. “The energy in the assembly was amazing today,” said Soldotna El principal Terri Diamond, “This was our first year and we expect the enthusiasm to grow next year.”
Ten year old Logan Cotton a 5th grader was the SMORE’S reading champ having read 3,930 minutes, “Enders Game was my favorite summer book and I’m reading better this fall than I was in the spring when school let out, and yes reading is fun. When I grow up I want to be something like a football player or a welder so I can stay in Alaska,” said Logan. Sponsors of both the summer reading programs included the Soldotna Rotary Club, VFW Ladies Auxiliary and Tesoro.