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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Nov. 22, 2002 – Michael J. Kirwan School had its turn in the spotlight Thursday for participating in the Reading Is Fundamental program.
On other dates, other schools across the territory will, like Kirwan, receive free books from Coca-Cola Inc. as part of the national initiative to encourage reading at an early age.
"Participation is based on the percentage of at-risk students attending the school," said ReGina Vanterpool, Kirwan assistant principal.
The schools must develop themes and hold contests related to the distribution of books, create other activities related to reading and keep statistics on their students' reading habits. At Kirwan, the books have been divided into collections for first, second and third grades that will serve as mini-libraries and circulate among the classes.
"The awarding of these book collections definitely helps us to provide essential literacy services to our at-risk student population. It also provides our students with new, fresh material to perk their interests and inspire them to read," said Holly Ferguson, who coordinates the Reading Is Fundamental program at Kirwan.
In addition to the collections for classroom use, the program gives each child at participating schools a free book of his or her own. This distribution happens every few months.
Activities at Kirwan also included a poster contest, won by J'Nelle Lake. The sixth grader's design in oil pastels will be entered in a national contest. Julian Smith, 12, won second place, and Tyrone Reid, 10, captured third. Both did their posters in markers.
The not-for-profit Reading Is Fundamental program was founded in 1966 to help prepare young children for reading and to motivate school-age children to read regularly. Margaret Craig McNamara, a volunteer tutor in Washington, D.C., started it after she discovered that children in her tutoring classes owned few, if any, books.
Last year, the program distributed 200 million books. It operates in every state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, distributing books in schools, libraries, community centers and even migrant worker camps and homeless shelters. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

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