The 33 fourth-graders plodding their way around the sheet at The Rinks – Anaheim Ice earlier this week weren’t your everyday group of skaters. They were students from DePortola Elementary School in Mission Viejo, who were awarded an ice skating and pizza party as part of the Ducks’ Reading is the Goal Program.
Over a 30-day period, approximately 9,500 students in 308 classrooms in Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties were encouraged to read daily from an approved book list and record their times. Students were awarded with various Ducks prizes based on their reading times, with the top school earning the skating and pizza party. The next four highest-scoring classrooms – Moffitt Elementary School (Norwalk), Beswick Elementary (Tustin), Stonegate Elementary (Irvine) and Laguna Road (Fullerton) each received a Ducks-sponsored pizza parties at their school.
“I think it’s an incredible culminating activity for any class,” said Carol Patrick, the teacher of the fourth-grade class at DePortola. “We weren’t aware that we had earned the highest totals of any class, so the kids were completely floored. They were so excited.”
During the event, Patrick skated with the kids, most of whom were beginning skaters. Some of them gripped the boards the entire session, while others were able to make it on their own. “We’ve been working on this, doing ankle building every day after flag salute,” Patrick said. “They’ve been diligent and they’re doing so well out there.”
One of those excelling on the ice was Clayton Morisset, whose mother Denise was beaming watching him skate, knowing the contribution he made to his winning classroom.
|“I think it’s an incredible culminating activity for any class. We weren’t aware that we had earned the highest totals of any class, so the kids were completely floored. They were so excited.” |
“He hated reading, and then when the Ducks came out with this, his teacher said they had to read 20 minutes a day,” Denise said. “So he said, ‘For the Ducks, Mom, I’m going to read an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. If they’re going to let us skate and have a pizza party, I’m not gonna let the Ducks down.’
“He even read on the weekends, and when the class won, it was just totally awesome. When he was skating, he said, ‘Mom, the Ducks are so great for doing this for us. It just warmed my heart.”
With the help of students like Clayton, there were more than 400,000 minutes read this season by participants in Reading is the Goal. On average, students read an extra 40 minutes per day due to the program.
“When you can engage young readers in choices that are their own, choices that are their passion, that reading is not a drag, it’s a great thing,” Patrick said. “And I personally ask that whatever they choose to read, that it be more of a challenge, so we’re aiming high. They are all highly motivated, engaged and intrigued.”
Reading Is the Goal has received awards from the International Reading Association's (IRA) California and Orange County chapters in 2009 and 2008, respectively. Both times, the Anaheim Ducks S.C.O.R.E. program received the Celebrate Literacy Award for its significant literacy contributions at the local, state, or provincial level.
“This is unbelievable,” Patrick said. “Whether or not we had reached the pinnacle, they know they competed and they know they learned individually. The incentives are so generous and such quality, the kids are thrilled. It’s an excellent give-back to the community because they are life lessons for children.”