Parent Teacher Magazine Union County Public Schools March/April 2019 - Page 13

Ready, set, read! The Books and Brackets reading challenge is back and bigger than ever! On Feb. 26, UCPS kicked off the 2019 Books and Brackets reading challenge with a pep rally at Rocky River Elementary. With more than 150 third, fourth and fifth graders in attendance, the pep rally featured special appearances by the school’s mascot, Monroe High student athletes and Union County Board of Education Chair Melissa Merrell. Books and Brackets, which is patterned after the March Madness basketball competition, allows all 30 of the school district’s elementary schools to compete in a month-long reading challenge. During last year’s challenge, third and fourth graders cumulatively read more than 12 million minutes, which roughly translates to 200,000 hours. Those students, who are now fourth and fifth graders, will join current third graders at their school as they compete against other schools to win the 2019 Books and Brackets Championship. “Books and Brackets is all about celebrating reading in Union County Public Schools,” UCPS Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan said during the pep rally. “Beginning March 15, at 1:30 p.m. every Friday on Facebook Live, we’re going to announce the schools who have made it to the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four.” The Books and Brackets winner, he added as the students cheered, will be named at a pep rally at Wingate University on Friday, April 5. Self-proclaimed Books and Brackets veteran and Rocky River fifth grader Kamaya Perry said she has enjoyed participating in Books and Brackets every year. “I’m really excited to participate in it again this year. I like the competition and I really want us to win this year,” she said. “If I had to give advice to third graders, I would say to read your best, have confidence and believe in yourself.” United Way of Central Carolinas (UWCC) Regional Relationship Manager Ivy Allen said, “Education is one of our four impact focus areas and is key to every student reaching their potential and contributing to making our community stronger,” she said. “We love our partnership with Union County Public Schools because we have some of the same goals in mind and the district is such a strong supporter of our organization.” The 2019 Books and Brackets reading challenge is being made possible with the help of community and business organizations. A special thanks also goes to the following top sponsors: United Way of Central Carolinas, Union County Education Foundation and event host Wingate University. Parent Teacher Magazine • Mar/Apr 2019 • 11