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Black Creek Elementary School and Dr. Thomas Lornson have teamed up to introduce a contest to the students designed to promote an interest in reading at an early age. Lornson has a dental practice located on South Main Street in Black Creek.

“I went to the school and told them I wanted to sponsor a reading program,” said Lornson. “I thought the best age group to target would be second through fourth graders and try to develop some life-long habits. I talked with Kathy Bidwell, the reading specialist at Black Creek School, and she designed a program.”

Lornson wanted the program to make sure the kids were actually reading, so part of the program requires the children demonstrate knowledge of the books they have read.

As the children read, they accumulate points. When the contest ends on March 7, the 10 students with the most points will each receive a Kindle E-reader.

“Everything that I’ve seen when they do studies that look at kids reading as opposed to just watching TV, the kids who read have better attention spans, better logical reasoning skills and are better at abstract thinking,” said Lornson. “I wanted to do something that would have a long-term effect on the community. I’ve seen what happens when you get kids hooked on reading. It has a noticeable effect on the rest of their life.”

Lornson has two children of his own. He said that as he observed the changes his daughter’s love of reading brought about. His observations regarding the positive impact reading brought about in his daughter are what he says prompted him to want to instill a love of reading at a young age in other children.

Bidwell said the students have specific times during the school day designated for reading. This helps with the accountability side of the project that Lornson stressed. This gives teachers the ability to ensure that students are not only reading, but also that they are reading books that are appropriate for them; meaning books that are within their appropriate reading level. The school refers to these types of books as “Good fit books” according to Bidwell. They allow the children to be challenged without being discouraged. To ensure the students understand what they are reading they are expected to write a short summary of the book they completed. Not only is this part of the accountability factor, it is also a part of the common core curriculum.

“We had a launch where I went into the different grade levels and talked about the contest,” Said Bidwell. “We were very clear on the expectations. We sent a letter home to the parents as well so everyone knew we had really clear expectations. The kids were very excited and the kids will stop me in the hall or stop into my office to tell me how they’re doing with their points so it’s been wonderful.”

Bidwell says that the teachers have noticed enough positive changes since the program started that Bidwell said several have suggested they may continue to incentivize reading on a smaller scale when the program ends. They have noted that the students’ ability to focus on tasks has increased as has their ability to read for longer periods of time.

“We were shocked when Dr. Lornson approached us with this idea,” she said. “It’s absolutely amazing. We’d love it if we could get support like this from other businesses in the area. This is huge! The staff is excited, the students are excited…we couldn’t be more pleased. “

The presentation of the Kindles does not have an exact date but is expected to take place this month.

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