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Highland ranks in top 20 in summer reading contest

Students log 1.36M minutes in spring, summer


Highland Elementary kindergarten through fifth grade students read for 1,362,203 minutes.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This version corrects the number of schools that entered the contest to 4,176.

Students at Sylvania's Highland Elementary School are no slouches where reading is concerned.

They demonstrated as much by logging more than a million minutes of reading over the spring and summer and finishing sixth in the country in a contest sponsored by a well-known publisher of children's books.

Altogether they logged 1,362,203 minutes of reading in the Scholastic Summer Challenge, earning a place in the publisher's 2012 Book of World Records, which is to be published in November.

Scholastic spokesman Yanique Hart said the Highland students' reading total placed the school in the top 20 in the world. Rankings were not broken down any further, she said.

Scholastic is a large international publisher, based in New York, with almost 10,000 employees. Ms. Hart said 4,176 schools from 22 countries entered the contest.

"They worked really hard," Ms. Hart said of the Highland students. "They showed so much enthusiasm."

Indeed, all of Highland was swept up in the reading challenge. When the students hit the milestone 1 million minutes mark, Principal Deb Serdar had the happy news posted on the marquee out front. The contest ran from May 1 to Aug. 31.

The Scholastic Web site ( kept a running tabulation of the minutes logged by each school, and for most of the summer Highland was in first place, said librarian Priscilla Dickerson, who was the school's point person for the reading challenge.

Then, as the end of August approached, schools began dumping their accumulated minutes onto the Web site, and Highland slipped from the top spot.

The winner turned out to be Brooksville Elementary School in Florida, with 3,176,409 minutes. Its enrollment is 845 students, compared to Highland's 670.

The contest was run on the honor system. The students signed in to the Scholastic Web site under the Highland account and entered their reading time.

"They could read anything they wanted to read," said Ms. Dickerson, who noted that Highland's total was helped in no small part by the fifth graders in the 2010-11 school year, who this year are in junior high.

In last year's contest, Highland finished 12th in the country, with 356,266 minutes. Ms. Hart said the purpose of the contest was to encourage children to read, and the company's strategy seemed to work, according to some Highland students who said they were motivated by the challenge.

Kaitlyn Langenderfer, a fifth grader this year, said she logged 1,033 minutes. She also checked the Web site every day.

"I wanted to see how many minutes my school had," she explained.

Kaitlynn Owens, a fourth grader, said the contest put her in the habit of reading more over the summer.

"It motivates you to read because it makes it more fun," she said.

Fourth grader Lily Fojtik said she used the contest to read Beverly Cleary's Ramona's World, which follows the adventures and growth of a girl.

"It got me excited," she said.

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