Jan. 20, 2017
19, but it wasn’t because of the Butler University Men’s Basketball Team. It
was 3,000 IPS third-graders who brought the noise!
Students and staff from IPS elementary schools were greeted
by several of Butler’s athletes, its mascot and cheerleaders, along with
Clifford the Big Red Dog and others, to kick off the IPS/NCAA “Read to the
Final Four” program.
Designed as a competition, “Read to the Final Four” pits IPS
third-grade classrooms against each other to see who can log the most minutes
reading. It’s a way to not only encourage students to read, but to develop a
love for reading.
“We wanted to put a spin on and create some buzz behind
getting kids to read and getting them to want to read, so we decided to
piggyback off of the NCAA Final Four component,” said IPS District Athletic
Director Jamal Smith. “We wanted to create the spirit of competition.”
The throngs of third-graders in the room seemed up for the
When IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee announced the
official start of the competition, which runs Jan. 19 through the championship
round on March 17, students went wild.
“Now what do you have to do to win?” Ferebee asked.
“READ,” the crowd of hyped third-graders yelled in unison.
Similar to collegiate basketball games leading up to the
Final Four and the championship, the number of minutes a classroom logs will
either propel that team forward or cause them to be eliminated from competition.
The “Play-in Round” kicked off Jan. 19, with subsequent
rounds (which last for two weeks each) and dates as follows:
- Feb. 3: Round of
- Feb. 17: Sweet 16
- Feb. 24: Elite 8
- March 3: Final
- March 10: Top Two
- March 17:
Throughout the competition, teams that move up during rounds
will receive a range of prizes – from individual books to classroom libraries,
pizza parties and even trophies for the champion.
Megan G., a third-grader from Sidener Academy for High
Ability Students, is excited to participate in the program.
“I’m excited because I love reading. I read about an hour
every day,” said Megan, 9, who cites the “Warriors” series by Erin Hunter as
some of her favorite books. She also enjoys the “Magic Treehouse” and “The
Magic School Bus” series. “Reading makes me feel like I’m actually there. The
‘Warriors’ books, they actually express the expression of what (the characters)
are feeling, so if they’re angry, you can actually feel the anger of what could
have happened, and if they’re sad, you can feel the sadness.”
While the program might be fun for students like Megan, who
already love to read, for others it could be a challenge. However, the energy
and competitive spirit behind the competition should level the playing field.
“It’s important that kids read. And if the statistics are
true and the percentage of kids, specifically in urban settings, are not
meeting the threshold for reading then something has to be done,” said Smith.
“How do we create some energy, some fun, some enthusiasm and get kids to want
to do what they should be and need to do anyway? We think this is an example of how we can get
The IPS/NCAA “Read to the Final Four” is a partnership
between IPS, the NCAA, Butler University and Scholastic Corporation.