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Community: Reading Wrap-Up in Halifax County

by Natalee Jarrett / Carolina Hurricanes
On Friday, March 19, some of the community relations/community development team and Stormy paid a visit to the highly-accomplished students of Halifax County, who participated in the 2009-10 Pick Up A Book and Read incentive reading program. Of the six participating Halifax schools, 420 third, fourth and fifth graders read over 330,000 pages.

Click here for a photo gallery of the event

Natalee Jarrett
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The Pick Up A Book and Read program was initiated in Halifax County as part of an educational partnership (i.e., Mentoring through Sports) with the Halifax County school system, NC State University, and NC Central University. This was our third trip to Halifax. The first trip included visits to Aurelian Springs Elementary School and Everetts Elementary School to ignite excitement for Pick Up A Book and Read. After that, we headed back down during the holiday season to deliver toys to children whom the RBC Center/Hurricanes had adopted through our holiday Angel Tree. Each time, Halifax school administrators, students, and families welcomed us with open arms.

When we arrived last Friday, students were on their best behavior, sitting patiently but anxiously awaiting their prizes for being the top reading participants in their classrooms and schools. Doris Barksdale, the Carolina Hurricanes' manager of community development and motivational consultant (she is also the fire and creator behind Pick Up A Book and Read and Mentoring through Sports), introduced our staff, which included Katharine Kelley, Kristina Boyce and myself. She also led the charge to the students, teachers, parents and administrators for their accomplishment and overwhelming participation.

Before the goods could be given out, Katharine asked the children to get ready for a special guest. After a three-second countdown, the crowd, including parents, teachers and Halifax school board administrators, gave the hammy Hurricanes mascot a warm welcome.

During the next half hour, each student present was recognized with a Certificate of Accomplishment for his/her reading achievements and a bag full of Hurricanes and RBC Center gear. Then, all of the top readers from each participating school were rewarded with a Carolina Hurricanes replica jersey for their hard work.

After the presentation, the students’ excitement became increasingly evident as they posed with Stormy for pictures and asked him to autograph some of their new things. They proudly put on their new Tyler Perry t-shirt or Hurricanes jersey and enjoyed the celebration before they had to head back to school. The students weren’t the only ones waiting in line for a warm embrace from the ice hog. Teachers, parents and administrators also went home with a memory from the day as well.

In 2009-10, the reading incentive program reached 150 classrooms in 50 schools across the state, including Halifax County participation. In total, 2,190 participants read more than 3 million pages during their six-week programs.

Each student receives a Certificate of Accomplishment, and the top reader for each classroom was also given an All Star certificate. The top class room readers and their teachers were invited to the March 18 Hurricanes game against the Washington Capitals.

All-in-all the Pick Up A Book and Read program, which is in its sixth year, was a huge success, and we hope that even more participants will join next year.

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