Media Archive

Brownville school tops in reading

Article from Bangor Daily News, Saturday, May 22, 2004

By Jackie Farwell
of the NEWS Staff

BROWNVILLE - Fourth-grader Stephanie Vachon liked books even before her elementary school won its second top prize for reading in a national literacy competition.

"I usually read before I go to bed anyway," Stephanie said Friday after an assembly honoring Brownville Elementary School for winning first in the state in "Read With Me: The 2004 Community Reading Challenge," a national competition.

Pupils in kindergarten through fifth grade read up to six hours outside of class in addition to homework over a two-week period to earn points toward the challenge, but Stephanie was already reading her favorite history and adventure books every day, she said.

"We have to shut the TV off at 8 [p.m.]," Stephanie said. That rule also goes for her two younger brothers, who also attend Brownville Elementary School.

This marks the second year in a row the school has been honored as a "small site" school by the Reading is Fundamental nonprofit literacy program, sponsored by MetLife, which issues the challenge.

"It's a big deal when we are honored," said Linda Lumbra, a literacy teacher at the school, adding that Brownville's 92 pupils competed with schools with more than three times its enrollment.

The pupils' efforts were applauded Friday by the superintendent, state Sen. Paul Davis of Sangerville, and 2nd District U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, who sent a letter of recognition to the school.

Pupils were honored with medals and bookmarks for reading their favorite books outside of school and earning points toward the contest. Some children were motivated by a teacher's promise to drink pickle juice for high scores.

"She didn't feel too well afterwards," Lumbra said. "I think maybe she'll pick something different next year."

The students earned extra points by inviting community members to come to the school to read aloud, with themes including "Senior Citizens Day" and "Parents Day," Lumbra said. The best was when local high school athletes came to visit, Stephanie said, because they brought books she and her friends liked.

Roald Dahl's "The BFG" and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series helped Stephanie earn points while she read outside on nice days, she said, a habit her parents encourage.

"We're used to reading each day," Stephanie said.

That public support, along with teachers' dedication, is integral to the success of the competition, Lumbra said.

"The community is extremely supportive of our school. It's like a huge family here."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.