Henderson police assist Yancey students' quest to read nearly 40,000 books

Apr. 09, 2013 @ 07:00 PM

Excitement is a little increased today at L.B. Yancey Elementary School. It’s Wednesday, and since January, that means a visit from the Henderson Police Department is in order.

Students at Yancey are on a mission to read 39,897 books, or one book per student per day, by May 8. And officers with the department have been diligently helping them toward the goal, stopping by on Wednesdays to read with the students.

Thanks to a new reading initiative called Wild About Reading, implemented by Lanisha Daye, an assistant principal at the school, students are well on their way to reaching that goal with 33,597 books read so far this year.

During the month of March alone, students read 4,904 books.

Every sworn member of the department has had an opportunity to read, and many will continue visiting through May 8, when Wild About Reading comes to an end.

Officer Eugene Burrell, who has been with Henderson police for a little over four years, was at the school last week, reading to first-grade students in Yvonne Woolfolk’s class.

“I just try to think like if I was a kid what would grab my attention, or try to relate to them,” said Burrell, who read “When I Was Little Like You,” a book by Jill Paton Walsh and Stephen Lambert.

As he read, young students clustered together on the carpet in front of him, gazed up in awe of his uniform and authoritative presence.

“You don’t want to scare them or seem like a threat to them, but you just want to back down, kind of to their level,” Burrell said. “It’s fun.

“It gets us off the streets. We get to come in here, and it kind of like takes our mind off everything.”

Reading is being strongly emphasized at L.B. Yancey, which for the past two years has participated in a second reading initiative, known as BARK, an acronym for:

• Be ready

• Accessible to your book

• Read silently

• Keep track of what you read.

“We already had the BARK program here, so we’re really involved in reading,” said Clarence Hicks, the school’s principal.

With the BARK reading initiative students are required to read for 30 minutes in the morning, after they’ve settled into their classrooms.

“A lot of our kids, sometimes they don’t pick up books when they go home, during the evenings, or on the weekends, so we have them read first thing when they come in the morning,” Hicks said. “To add to that, with the police officers coming on Wednesdays, assisting with the reading, it’s something that we really enjoy.

“The kids really enjoy having them here.”

Receiving rewards for the number of books read is yet another way Wild About Reading encourages students to crack a book, creating a competitive atmosphere where they push themselves to succeed.

“It’s like a competition for them,” Hicks said.

Upon reaching their goal of 39,897 books read, grades second through fifth will be rewarded with a field trip to the zoo, while kindergarten and first-grade students head to Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh.

The class reading the most number of books before Wild About Reading comes to an end will receive a pizza party. Book totals for all classes are tallied and posted on a bulletin board in the main hall.

Individual students are also rewarded.

Those reading 25 books during the months of February and March were rewarded with a free dance night and movie night.

Through reading initiatives at L.B. Yancey, and with help from members of the Henderson Police Department, everyone in the community stands to be rewarded as the next generation of leaders strengthen their comprehension through words in books.

“Reading, reading, reading, reading,” Hicks said. “That’s what we do.”

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.