“Read To The Final Four” Kicks Off In Bemidji
The NCAA Final Four will be held in Minnesota this year, and with it, a new reading initiative has been started to promote the upcoming tournament. The “Read to the Final Four” kicked off today in Bemidji at Northern Elementary School. College basketball players visited the elementary to read to third-grade students.
“BSU students, basketball players, girl basketball players came to read with our third graders in kind of a jump start to inspire reading,” said Heather Anderson, third grade teacher at Northern Elementary.
The initiative was started to engage youth and leave a lasting positive impact in the region where the upcoming Final Four will be hosted.
“We start now, and then in January, they take the top 68 teams in the state of Minnesota – I should say schools – that have the most average minutes read as a school, and then they’re actually going to put them in a bracket, just like the Final Four gets in a bracket,” explained Anderson.
The initiative includes free access to a digital library of almost 6,000 books for the students to read.
The kick-off today was a huge success and brought kids from across three different third grade classrooms together to read.
“Kids are always just fired up. Anytime I think they get an opportunity for especially college student athletes to come in they just kind of light up,” said BSU Women’s Basketball Head Coach Chelsea DeVille. “So, it’s great to see these kids get to interact with our young women.”
“I like reading to kids. I love kids, so it was a good opportunity just to encourage reading and being here to support the community,” said Claire Wolhowe, who is on the BSU Women’s Basketball team and volunteered to read to the students.
The program focuses on third grade, a time where students are in a transitional period when it comes to reading.
“We start as we’re learning to read, and then it becomes to where we start to read to learn. So it’s a big transition. It can be tough for some kids,” added Anderson. “So it’s a great time and this will be a great way to motivate them.”
In April during the NCAA Final Four week, prizes will be awarded to the winning school, as well as to individual readers that have logged the most reading minutes.
Over 190 schools are participating in the “Read to the Final Four.” The number will cut down to 68 for the bracket-style reading tournament in January.