One by one, several Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Elementary School students climbed or sprinted up the mats to simulate they were climbing a mountain during the March 13 Rotary Reading challenge wrap-up celebration.

One by one, the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley students from each elementary class stepped onto the stage and ran across the mats and over obstacles to illustrate climbing to the top of the mountain.

The March 13 celebration was part of the Rotary Reading Challenge Climb to the Top, a challenge that began Nov. 29 and wrapped up March 1.

“This is a big deal to set goals and to reach those goals,” said Elementary Principal Jill McGowan.

Over the course of the challenge, pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students received incentives and rewards for reaching goals.

The pre-k, first-, second-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes each surpassed their goals. All the fifth-grade students increased their lexile level by 15 percent; all the fourth-graders read 10 novels with a minimum of 50 pages at their lexile level; 98 percent of second-graders increased two book levels; 85 percent of first-graders increased four reading levels; and 82 percent of pre-k students were able to identify 15 upper case letters of the alphabet.

Rotarian Sharon Foss told the students to keep reading and to try their very best. “When you can read you can climb to the top of the mountain.”

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