Pupils celebrate learning

Summer school event features paperback giveaway, book reports

July 14, 2006|By CHRIS YAKAITIS | CHRIS YAKAITIS,SUN REPORTER

Books are part of Davonte Rich's summer routine. "I read one every day," said the 10-year-old sixth-grader at Coldstream Park Elementary/Middle School.

At the school's Summer Learning Day Celebration yesterday, Davonte picked up three free paperbacks on his summer reading list. His were among the 175 new books given to summer school pupils and visitors at a half-day program sponsored by the Verizon Foundation and the Johns Hopkins University's Center for Summer Learning.

"We had 150 books, and then we had to run and get more," said Tracey Thomas, the school principal.

The book distribution capped a presentation for kindergarten through middle-school pupils that stressed the value of summer reading. During the program - "Books: They're Full of Drama!" - pupils presented book reports on historical figures while parent volunteers portrayed individuals ranging from Harriet Tubman to Bill Cosby.

FOR THE RECORD - In yesterday's editions, The Sun incorrectly reported how $25,000 in grants from the Verizon Foundation would be distributed by the Center for Summer Learning. The money will be distributed to programs across the state.
The Sun regrets the error.

Brendan Costigan, a policy and outreach coordinator for the Hopkins center, said the program dramatized the discovery process that unfolds as a child reads. "If you let them, if you read to them enough, books can come alive," he said.

Costigan's group aims to combat "summer learning loss" - the regression in learning that can take place over the nearly three-month summer vacation.

Schools in 10 states and the District of Columbia marked the third National Summer Learning Day with programs such as the one at Coldstream Park. The Verizon Foundation donated $25,000 to the Hopkins center, which in turn allowed individual schools across the country to apply for a $1,500 program grant, Costigan said.

Thomas and fourth-grade teacher Glenda Lutalo obtained one of those grants and used most of the funding to buy books for all the pupils who attended. About 160 pupils left toting their new easy-reader and paperback books in plastic bags with a "Proud to Be a Summer Reader" logo. Thomas said most of the children are voluntarily attending summer school, which began Monday and will last until Aug. 5.

Charlene Cooper Boston, interim chief executive officer for the city schools, paid her first visit to pupils at the event. "I'm in charge of all the schools in the entire city," she said. "I take care of all those schools."

As pupils finished lunch - ham-and-cheese sandwiches, corn and chocolate milk - Boston spoke briefly about the importance of pupils' reading every day and taking advantage of summer school.

Boston said the number of pupils at Coldstream Park yesterday was an encouraging sign as she gears up for her first year as head of the city system.

"I'm very pleased that we have a summer program where we're reaching probably over 17,000 young people," she said. "This gives us an opportunity to arrest [summer learning loss] and put them on a sure footing for September and the rest of the school year."

chris.yakaitis@baltsun.com

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