ST. GEORGE — As part of the “Bikes for Books: reading incentive program sponsored by the St. George Masonic Lodge No. 33, 68 elementary students in the Washington County School District have or will receive brand new bicycles for their literary efforts during the 2019-20 school year.
To participate in the program, students had to complete a reading challenge, individualized by grade level. Once they completed the challenge, their names were entered into a drawing, then a boy and a girl from each grade level were randomly selected and received or will receive a brand new Huffy bicycle, ProRider helmet, shirt and certificate.
On Tuesday afternoon, the St. George Masonic Lodge visited Santa Clara Elementary School, one of five schools sponsored by the program, for the awards ceremony. Due to restrictions related to the pandemic, the ceremony was held on Zoom and winners were called one-by-one to the library.
Karen Cook, the school librarian, told St. George News that cheering could be heard from the individual classrooms as each name was called.
“There was so much excitement,” Cook said, adding that they felt so fortunate to be sponsored.
Altogether, Santa Clara Elementary students read over 5,000 books during the 2019-21 school year.
First grader Emma Weakly told St. George News that winning a bike made her happy and that her favorite book she read was called “Big Pumpkin.”
“It’s about a witch going out and planting a pumpkin and then it got too big and she couldn’t pull it off, and then all these different animals — monsters — came and tried to do it,” she said. “And then a bat came and had an idea, but they all laughed. But he had an idea and it actually worked and then she ran and made pumpkin pie.”
Fifth grader Xavier Batista told St. George News he read 16 books last year, adding that he likes reading because he’s curious to find out what happens in the story.
“I was surprised when I won it,” he said. “My whole class was clapping super loud that all my other friends classes could hear it with their door closed.”
Santa Clara Elementary was one of five schools in the Washington County School District that was sponsored by the St. George Masonic Lodge.
The program began locally four years ago, when after hearing about the Bikes for Books program, David Reinitz, a past master of the St. George Masonic Lodge, felt inspired to start a local program.
“I think we as a Masonic Lodge need to be involved in community,” he told St. George News.
In the first year, they sponsored Coral Canyon Elementary and donated 12 bikes. They also chose one student who showed outstanding improvement in reading skills.
“The young lady who won the first year didn’t read, but by the end of the school year, she couldn’t put a book down,” Reinitz said. “That’s not part of the drawing, but part of the teacher’s award.”
Due to the success of the program, in the next year, the St. George Masonic Lodge sponsored three more schools in the district: Hurricane, Coral Canyon and Three Falls elementary schools. The third year, they increased the program to four schools, adding Santa Clara Elementary School to the list. Last year, they added LaVerkin Elementary School.
Santa Clara Elementary was one of five schools sponsored by the St. George Masonic Lodge. Others include Hurricane, Coral Canyon, Three Falls and LaVerkin Elementary schools.
“Santa Clara Elementary that year (last year) knocked it out of the box. They really got on the program,” Reinitz said.
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