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Gearity Celebrates Reading Olympics
May 9, 2024 -- The flag bearers filed in, to the rising cheers of their fellow countrymen, and stood proud as anthems were sung and the torch was lit, all gathered in preparation for the fierce competition about to begin. 

Was it the Olympic Opening Ceremony in Paris? No, it was the Reading Olympics at Gearity Professional Development School.

Organized by Title I lead teacher Darrell Lausche, the schoolwide competition will run for four weeks, with all students recording their at-home reading time as their classes battle it out for first place gold. “I really want to keep them motivated as we head into summer,” said Lausche, who also organized last year’s March Reading Madness.

On the afternoon of Monday, April 29, a young student jogged his way through every classroom bearing a flashlight “torch” and alerting the students it was time to make their way to the gym. Each group had two designated flag bearers carrying the flag their class made to represent their chosen country. Brazil and Japan, Kenya and the Netherlands, Croatia and Vietnam, Jamaica and South Sudan all filed into the gym, while their classmates cheered them on.

Students and staff then stood for the Star-Spangled Banner and the Olympic Hymn, before settling down to learn the rules of the competition. As is always the case at Gearity, all students are encouraged to read for pleasure for at least 20 minutes each day. “Principal McNichols asks the kids every day at dismissal if they have something to read at home,” said Lausche.

Students will log the title of their books and the minutes they spend reading each night, returning their signed log to their classroom teacher each Monday. Lausche will then enter every child’s total minutes into a computer program which will sort and rank each class by total time spent reading. Progress will be marked in a hallway display that has each class, their teacher’s picture, their country’s flag and an icon of their chosen sport moving along a track. The classes that record the most reading minutes will win stuffed tigers with gold, silver and bronze medals to display in their room each week.

The class who reads the most overall minutes at the end of the Olympics will win an end-of-the-year ice cream sundae party. There will be individual medals for the top three readers in every classroom as well and any student who reads more than 100 minutes in a week will have the chance to choose a prize from Lausche’s treasure chest.

Classroom teachers have taken this opportunity to learn more about their chosen country, some reading extra books, listening to music or even serving traditional foods from their country. According to Principal McNichols, Gearity is now home to more than 30 students who speak Spanish at home, mostly hailing from Mexico, Venezuela and Guatemala, making this international celebration all the more meaningful. 

Lausche hopes the children will be motivated to watch this summer’s Olympics in Paris with a new enthusiasm. Their enthusiasm was on full display in their school gym this week as the small torch from the relay was used to “light” a cauldron, fashioned from a fan with red, yellow and orange streamers. Let the games begin.