Read-a-thon marks end of era

INDEPENDENCE -- Unless you were born more than 25 years ago, you're probably too young to fully appreciate "Let's Make a Deal."

INDEPENDENCE -- Unless you were born more than 25 years ago, you're probably too young to fully appreciate "Let's Make a Deal."

But youthful indiscretion didn't prevent fun for Independence Elementary School students during an April 13 assembly themed after the game show. Kids laughed at silly costumes or chanting "take it" as fifth-grader Sebastian Perfecto mulled between a mystery prize and what was behind curtain number No. 1.

But then again, the closing celebration of the school's annual Read-a-thon is always a good time.

"This is wonderful," said John McArdle, Independence mayor doing his best Jay Stewart shtick on this morning. McArdle has taken part in the festivities since his son -- now a Central High senior -- attended school here. And before.

"Adults don't mind looking silly either," he said. "It's all about making reading fun."

There was a twinge of melancholy to this 22nd edition, however. It marked the last one for Moms-4-Reading, a group of local moms who have planned and coordinated the event since the early 1990s.

Joy Hoffman, Marilyn Morton, Liane Moser and Kristy Vandercreek announced their retirement from the event in the fall. All four were honored last week.

"I'm a little sad," Morton of Independence said. "It doesn't feel like 22 years have passed."

"It went fast," Moser agreed. "I never would have dreamed that when we started doing this, it would still be going on."

IES's Read-a-thon is a literacy initiative that entices children to read by awarding school "cash" redeemable for prizes -- donated by the Masonic Lodge -- for hours spent hitting the books during a five-month period.

Teachers have praised it for boosting reading practice outside of the classroom.

For this school year, students read the equivalent of 16 months, 10 days and four hours. Perfecto was this year's top reader -- he read for nearly 190 hours.

"Mostly fantasy books," Perfecto said. "I like reading ... I'm kind of a fanatic about it."

The mothers had agreed they would end their run once all of their children were out of grade school. That happens this year.

Moser said while the moms are gone, the IES institution will live on; a new set of parents have stepped up to spearhead it.

"We all would have felt worse thinking about it if this was the end," Moser said.

It might not be for the moms; Moser said she and the others have agreed to do "a little consulting" if necessary.


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