Roscoe’s Reading Program kicks off 2013-2014 year

  • Friday, November 15, 2013

Teacher Elizabeth Partini kisses Taz the Beagle as part of a deal for every student in her class meeting their point total. Also pictured is Roscoe’s founder Marietta Hicks.

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The 2013-2014 Roscoe’s Reading Program is underway in Berkeley County for second and third grade students.

The program’s mission is to “motivate students in the early grades to become skilled readers in order to become better learners throughout their school years,” according to founder Marietta Hicks. The National Research Council has shown that children that are not at least a moderately skilled reader by the end of third grade are unlikely to graduate from high school.

Students use the accelerated reader tests to accumulate points. The number of points given are based on the difficulty and length of the books read. Students that reach the appropriate number of points by the end of the quarter get to participate in an ice cream party during the last 30 minutes of the day. There are dogs that come in to perform tricks and each student gets two free books of their choice. Third graders need seven points to participate and second graders need five.

“I believe really strongly in the importance of reading,” said Cane Bay Elementary third grade teacher Cara Musgrave. “I really push it and other teachers do too.”

It began when Hicks visited schools with her bloodhound Roscoe to teach the students about safety.

“The students often wrote stories about Roscoe,” Hicks said. “I still enjoy their descriptions of his wrinkles, velvety ears, and huge body.”

In 2002 a group of fourth graders asked their teacher, Beth Schurlknight, to kiss the massive pooch. Schurlknight agreed with the condition that the kids exceeded their reader goals. After the students obliged and passed the bar, the program was born.

Over 24,000 students have participated in the program since it was founded. By the end of last year 54,114 books were given to students during the parties. In 2013-2014 there are 14 schools participating with 3,823 students and 171 teachers in all.

Roscoe passed away in 2008 at the age of 12, but that hasn’t stopped the program from carrying on.

“God used one of his creatures to enrich my life in so many ways,” said Hicks. “I miss Roscoe but I’m heartened by the many blessings this special bloodhound brought us. I’ve met and worked with so many wonderful people because of Roscoe and the Reading Program.”

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