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Gov. visits Aspen students

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Education > 2015 summer reading challenge is focus of Martinez’s trip

By Tris DeRoma

As the governor says, “You can’t win if you don’t read.”
Gov. Susana Martinez showed up at Aspen Elementary School Friday to tout the state’s summer reading program the “2015 New Mexico True Summer Reading Challenge.”
New Mexico children ages 5-12 are eligible to participate, from any type of schooling situation, whether that’s public, private, charter or home school.
Participants in the contest must read 12 books by July 31 as well a write an essay about “Why I Love New Mexico.”
Students then need to submit their lists. Students with the best essays are eligible for top prizes, which are pretty sweet. Those prizes include a trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a family fun day at the New Mexico State Fair or a balloon ride with Martinez and First Gentleman Franco.
For more information, log onto readingchallenge.ped.state.nm.us.
Martinez arrived at the school a little past noon Friday and met up with Aspen Elementary School’s principal, Kathryn Vandenkieboom and students playing outside at recess, where she took “selfies” with the students and talked with them about what they were doing in school.
“I’m so complimented that she would want to come to meet our kids and our teachers and look at our brand new school. It’s pretty nice,” said Vandenkieboom.
Martinez then went to the school’s Media Center to read a book to the school’s three second-grade classes waiting for her there.
The book she read was “Hepcat,” by William Bramhall, about a cat who lost its “groove” and seeks to get it back before it has to perform at a concert.
Before that, however, Martinez spoke to the class, as well as the audience of school and county officials who were also in attendance, about the importance of the program.
“Our challenge is designed to stop what is called the ‘summer slide,’” Martinez said. “Students are out of the classroom, they’re busy on summer vacation, they’re traveling, playing video games, splashing around in swimming pools… and because they’re not in a classroom and not practicing reading they start to lose some of those essential skills. That’s why the reading program is so important. We want them to be even better readers when they come back in the fall then when they left in the summer.”
Martinez then turned to the kids and told them about all the prizes they could win, causing them cheer and clap. Martinez also had along with her second grade Aspen Elementary student Rainy Ferrell, who won tickets to a Lobos basketball game last year for her participation in the contest.
She also congratulated businesses in Los Alamos for lending their financial and moral support to the program.
“Businesses know that kids learn to read from kindergarten to third grade, and that from fourth grade on, they read to learn. The words get bigger, the chapters get longer, the content gets harder.”
One of the reasons Martinez chose to visit Aspen School is because is was one of the schools the state’s Public School Capital Outlay Council decided to help fund with 36 percent of matching funds for the $18 million-plus project.
Los Alamos School Board Vice President Matt Williams also noted that the New Mexico Public Education Department recently announced changes to how it will do standard PARCC testing in the future.
“This also comes on the heels of an announcement by the governor’s office to change PARCC testing,” Williams said. “They’re going to combine the two tests (it was split into two parts) they’re going to move it to later in the year so teachers will have more instruction time, and it will take less time to take.”

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