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Riverbanks Month Long Reading Celebration Concludes
The students at Riverbank Language Academy were all smiles as the guest reader Monte Wood read them a story this past Friday in celebration of Read Across Riverbank. DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE NEWS

Several schools across the country participate in Read Across America during the month of March, however Riverbank Unified School District takes it a step further than just a one day celebration but they ‘Read Across Riverbank’ all month long. The After School Program, ASP, had a variety of activities that students at California Avenue Elementary, Mesa Verde Elementary, and Riverbank Language Academy (RLA) enjoyed throughout the month.

“Read Across Riverbank was a great success,” stated Angela Bailey-Gabrie, Mesa Verde Project ACTION (Afterschool Care Together In Our Neighborhoods) ASP Advisor. “We prepare for this month each year and even though it is busy and a lot of extra work for ASP Advisors and Leaders we really enjoy it. It is not only a great way to promote reading throughout the month but it is also a great way to bring regular school day and after school together working toward the same goal.”

The students at all three school sites participated in a weekly reading challenge which ended on Monday, March 26. The final counts were not available for all school sites by press time. According to Bailey-Gabrie, Mesa Verde Elementary kindergarten through third grade students read a total of 8,092 books this month and fourth and fifth graders read 883 chapters.

“Some teachers even incorporated the challenge into their nightly homework,” added Bailey-Gabrie. “Each class within their grade that read the most received a popcorn party each week. We also had a weekly raffle from each grade for a free book, pencil and bookmark. I had so much fun delivering the popcorn and prizes each week.”

There was a bookmark contest for a few weeks that students participated in that was judged by the ASP advisors. There were several games students could engage in where they received prizes like Where’s Waldo, Sight Word Pop, Roll a Story and a Lorax craft.

“The students also enjoyed seeing the performances from each school site,” said Bailey-Gabrie. “I think it was a consensus that traveling to each school site was a good experience for the performers and for each school to have a chance to see the performances as well.”

This was the first year that students from each school site that participated in the Reader’s Theatre performed at the three sites instead of just performing at California Avenue Elementary only once. They performed at RLA on March 16 and Mesa on March 23 as well as their regular performance at California Avenue on March 2.

“The last Readers Theater turned out great,” expressed Bailey-Gabrie. “Mesa students were really excited to host guests on our campus for the afternoon. We talked about how we could welcome them to our campus the day before they came. Students were ready to show them around the school, make sure they knew where the bathroom was and invite them to participate in the different literacy activities.”

She added that the students also enjoyed seeing the performances from each school site.

“I think it was a consensus that traveling to each school site was a good experience for the performers and for each school to have a chance to see the performances as well,” she said.

The final week of Read Across Riverbank was Guest Reader Week. Volunteers were asked to sign up to read a story to students during the morning with several time slots available to choose from. There were several volunteers throughout the community that participated including RUSD Superintendent Dr. Daryl Camp, RUSD administrative staff and teachers, RUSD Board Member Susan Taylor, Riverbank Librarian Vicky Holt, Riverbank Federated Women’s Club member Marilyn McRitchie, and City Councilmembers Darlene Barber Martinez and Cal Campbell.

“I had several teachers email me pictures and thank us for putting this event on,” stated Bailey-Gabrie. “The students really enjoy having a new face come in and break up the day. Students really enjoy learning about the reader and what their occupation is and why they are there to read to them.”