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Sanchez: ‘Read to Lead’ is beneficial

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State > Lt. Governor says reading is key for students’ plans for the future

By Tris DeRoma

When Lt. Gov. John Sanchez visited Chamisa Elementary School recently, he brought gifts. A lot of them.
Sanchez and his aides brought stacks and stacks of “B is for Buckaroo,” an alphabet book by Gleaves and Louise Doak Whitney designed for readers kindergarten through third grade.
The visit coincides with state’s “Read to Lead” initiative, a program Gov. Susana Martinez started in 2012 in an effort to promote literacy.
Throughout 2015, the governor, as well as the lieutenant governor will be making stops throughout the state, handing out the book to eager students and hopefully igniting a love for reading in the students that will last a lifetime.
“We can’t think of a better investment that the state can make not only in our kids but our teachers, too,” Sanchez said. “If a child learns how to read then they can keep on learning their entire life. It’s the greatest gift we can give them.”
During his visit, Sanchez read the entire book to Chamisa’s first, second and third graders before giving them their own copy.
He also shared with the students his own love of reading and why reading is so important.
“When I was a little boy, my mom used to say that if you learn how to read and if you stay in school, do things right and work hard, and the most important thing… that if you learn how to read John, you can do anything you want,” he said. “Here I am, many years later, lieutenant governor of the entire state.”
The students were pretty impressed with that, and expressed to Sanchez what they wanted to be when they grew up.
Superintendent of Schools Kurt Steinhaus was on hand to help pass out the books, and was glad to have the lieutenant governor for a visit.
“When it comes to the first grade, reading is our number one goal,” Steinhaus said. “We appreciate any help we can get, and these books are a great step forward. We’re very thankful.”
Principal Debbie Smith was honored the governor’s office chose her school to help promote reading to young people.
“We were really excited that they were promoting something that’s really important to us, which is reading achievement,” Smith said. “Also, not just reading achievement, but helping to instill a lifelong love of reading.”
Smith also mentioned Los Alamos’ local organizations have also done much to promote reading in the schools, as well. That would include the members of Pajarito Masonic Lodge No. 66, who every year give away two free bicycles and two free e-readers to students who read the most books during a certain period.
Called the “Bikes For Books” program, lodges all over the state partner with a certain school’s reading program, providing bikes as rewards.
The Pajarito Lodge has been partnering with Chamisa for eight years. Every 100 minutes the kids read over the summer, they receive one raffle ticket that goes into a jar. Sometime in the beginning of the school year, around mid September, a member from Pajarito Lodge No. 66 will come to the school and pick tickets from the jar.
Students have a choice of putting their ticket in either the “bike” jar or the “e-reader” jar.
Smith said that one of her favorite things about the contest is that it also gives the students a chance to show off their character too, especially when it comes to Chamisa’s “Kinderbuddies” program, where the school’s sixth grade students mentor a kindergartner during their last year at the school.
“We recently had a sixth grader win a mountain bike and give it to their Kinderbuddy, which was just amazing,” Smith said.