Grizzlies tip-off Read to Achieve
The Growl Towels waved furiously as the children of Bruce Elementary welcomed Quincy Pondexter, Jerryd Bayless, Kosta Koufos, Ed Davis, mascot Grizz and members of the Memphis Grizzlies organization to tip-off this year’s Read To Achieve program in October.
The students and faculty at Bruce Elementary have more than merely participated in the NBA Cares program in years past, they’ve gone above and beyond the program’s requirements.
Read to Achieve suggests elementary students read six books in six weeks, but students at Bruce Elementary were once challenged to 12 books in 6 weeks. For this year’s initiative, students have been challenged to topple their own record by reading 18 books in six weeks.
The faculty suggests their students read at their current grade level or above for the entirety of the program. Physical Education Specialist Danny Gullet says the program is a hit among students, and the faculty is seeing the impact.
“Test scores have risen and we’re seeing gains everywhere, and we’re seeing growth. So we’re raising it to 18 (books) this year. We want them reading at an early age… Test scores go up, grades go up and the discipline goes down because they feel a level of success. Read to achieve something, don’t just be satisfied with where you’re at now, and try to go above and beyond.”
The players are certainly an inspiration for the students. But, the reading doesn’t just stop after school. Quincy Pondexter says that reading is essential, even for basketball players.
“As a kid you don’t understand how much you need reading as you grow up. But, reading contracts, plays or scouting reports, that’s just in everyday basketball. Even if you want to be a basketball player, you still have to read. There’s no escaping it and I think reading helps you get a wide range of personality and you get to experience so much.”
Gullett certainly wants those reading experiences for his students, and it seems his students do too.
“After the event today, the kids were saying ‘Coach, when can we start reading?’ If we wanted, we could start the reading challenge today!”