Students release birds to celebrate reading

Students at Beverly Elementary School celebrated their reading skills Friday with a fun activity – they released a dozen homing pigeons.

Beverly resident John Thayer shared 12 of his homing pigeons for release, marking their summer success and the kick off of the next Accelerated Reader period. Officials at the school said they chose a pigeon release because it is more environmentally friendly than releasing balloons.

Beverly Elementary Principal Paul Zickefoose said 13 students at the school completed the goal of 25 or more Accelerated Reader points during the summer. Zickefoose said the Accelerated Reader program not only encourages reading, but assures the students understand what they are reading.

“Each book is assigned points, and students take a comprehension test following the completion of reading a book,” Zickefoose said. “Students must score 80 percent or higher on the test to receive Accelerated Reader points. Today we are celebrating with those who participated during the summer and kicking off a new period that begins today and extends through Nov. 1.”

In the summer, parents and community volunteers made sure the school was open on Tuesday evenings, giving students the opportunity to check out books to read from the school library. Students had access to the computers those evenings, giving them the opportunity to complete Accelerated Reader tests and earn their points.

Teachers, parents and community volunteers read to the students and helped them complete their testing.

The 13 students that earned 25 points or more points during the summer traveled to Davis & Elkins College for swimming and a pool party. They also were given $15 gift cards from Main Line Books.

Zickefoose said the school’s Accelerated Reader program is headed by Kelli Dyer, Joyce Hutton and Jack Crumm. The new session runs through Nov. 1, during which students need to secure 15 points.

“The required point amount is lower this time because students are back to school with lots of homework and sports,” Zickefoose said. “We usually see a huge amount of participation during this time. The program is so important because of its emphasis not just on reading, but reading comprehension.”

The 13 students reaching the 25-point goal joined their fellow students on the field behind the school Friday to help release the homing pigeons.