Summer reading initiative pays off for Blue Ridge Elementary

By Alan Bulluck

July 7, 2014

Reading reaps dividends; just ask the staff and students at Blue Ridge Elementary School (BRES).

The school recently placed first among elementary schools in the state with 350-550 students, in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s second annual “Give Five-Read Five” campaign.

“We came in first in our category,” Callie Grubb, principal at BRES, said. “All that we collected, we sent home with our students for the summer.”

State Superintendent June Atkinson first launched the reading initiative in the spring of 2013 to provide students with books to read over summer break.

“I am ecstatic about the results from the second year of this campaign,” Atkinson stated in a press release. “We doubled last year’s book total and also increased the number of participating schools. These donations will enable students to read over summer vacation so that they can return to school in the fall better prepared to learn.”

As a part of the campaign, parents, business leaders and community members donate new or gently-used books to local elementary schools. The books are then sent home with students at the end of the school year.

“This was our second year doing it,” Grubb said. “We wanted to make sure our students didn’t fall into the summer slide.”

For those unfamiliar with the slide, just think back to that first week back at school after a summer of exercising the body and completely resting the mind.

Statewide, this year’s campaign was a huge success as 148 schools from 52 school districts collected a grand total of 274,729 books — more than double the amount of books collected last year by 74 participating schools.

School principals, media coordinators and district public information officers spread the word about the campaign and coordinated book collection and distribution at the local level. Large and small businesses and other organizations contributed new books and financial support to the effort.

“The books were set up like a grocery store where students just walked around picking out what books they wanted to take home,” Grubb said.

BRES was one of three schools that will receive one-year licenses to online literacy programs for collecting the most books in their size category. Royal Oaks Elementary School in Cabarrus County won in the less than 350 students category and Winterfield Elementary School in Charlotte won for the greater than 550 students category.

Grubb said BRES will subscribe to the Achieve 3000 online literacy program, something they’ve wanted to subscribe to since last year.

Achieve 3000 is a differentiated learning program designed to provide instruction to all students — gifted and otherwise — to meet the goals of the Common Core standards, among other academic items.

“It’s so expensive,” Grubb said. “We wanted it last year but couldn’t afford it. We’re really excited about it.”

Grubb thanked Media Coordinator Tonya Denny for organizing and coordinating the book drive.

For more information, including a list of all the schools that participated in the campaign and their book donation totals, visit the Give Five - Read Five website at

Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.