Sen. Rob Standridge said a total of 13 schools in the Norman, Little Axe, Noble and Mid-Del school districts are
now participating in the Junior Senator Reading Challenge. The program, which Standridge sponsors, is currently in its fourth year and is aimed at encouraging children to read while providing libraries with additional resources to help students participate.
“Previously we had nine schools participate in the Jr. Senator Reading Challenge, with 1,791 students completing the challenge. We’ve got a total of 13 schools now, and each one that participates gets a $200 library grant for books,” said Standridge, R-Norman. “Reading is key to learning, and anything we can do to encourage that benefits our children and better prepares them for success throughout life. It’s a pleasure and a privilege for me to be a part of that.”
Standridge said in order for students to earn the title of “Junior Senator” students must read four presidential biographies and two biographies about Oklahomans in addition to other reading requirements determined by each school. Students who complete the challenge are presented with citations and dog tags. The motto for this year is “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader.” Teachers are given t-shirts with the motto to help inspire the children to accept and finish the challenge.
Renee Surowicz is the Reading Specialist at Noble Pioneer Intermediate School. Surowicz said 195 of her students completed the Junior Senator Reading Program last year.
“The Junior Senator Reading Program is used in addition to school-wide reading incentives offered to our students. The various reading instruction and incentive programs have benefited our school as shown by improved reading test scores,” Surowicz said. “The Junior Senator Program allows students of all academic and social backgrounds to achieve. The first year that Pioneer participated in the Junior Senator Reading Program, a fourth grade student informed me that the award he received for completing the program was the only award he had ever received at school and his mother had framed it.”
Andy Mosher is the librarian at Cleveland Elementary.
"One positive it has had on our students is the encouragement to stick with reading throughout the whole year. Prior to adding the Junior Senator achievement to our reading promotion we had more sporadic participation.
With the incentive of being recognized as a Junior Senator we have had many more students stick with the program throughout the entire year,” Mosher said.
Standridge sometimes is asked to visit schools to help kick-off the reading challenge. He and his wife, Lisa, also attend some of the end of the year awards assemblies to present the citations and dog tags.
“I attribute much of my accomplishments as a pharmacist, businessman, software programmer, even as a senator, to my own determination as a child to be a dedicated reader and work hard at getting a good education,” Standridge said. “I’m gratified that this program is encouraging kids not only to read, but to set and achieve goals, both of which will benefit them throughout their lives. It’s good for our students and our schools, and I’m honored to continue as sponsor for the Junior Senator Reading Program this year.”