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Corinthian Masonic Lodge members help area students get excited to read

Corinthian Masonic Lodge members, from left, Fred Docker, Brian Shields and Kyle Foster stand with Elmhurst Elementary School students who received a bike as part of the Bikes for Books program..
Corinthian Masonic Lodge members, from left, Fred Docker, Brian Shields and Kyle Foster stand with Elmhurst Elementary School students who received a bike as part of the Bikes for Books program.. Courtesy

In a partnership between the Corinthian Masonic Lodge and Elmhurst Elementary School in the Franklin-Pierce School District, seven students were awarded bikes for their outstanding achievements in reading throughout the school year.

Corinthian Masonic Lodge member and former Elmhurst Elementary School teacher Kyle Foster spearheaded the resurgence of the Bikes for Books program.

“Bikes for Books had already started in a couple of other lodges throughout the state so we wanted to get a Bikes for Books program going in our lodge,” Foster said. “As masons we believe in being good citizens and we think a huge part of that is continuing education. Reading is a foundation of that.”

Foster approached Elmhurst Principal Carrie Adrian about starting a Bikes for Books program and Adrian turned the project over to Lana Johnson, an 18-year Elmhurst teacher who became the librarian this year.

Since Johnson sees all the students in the library on a regular basis, she devised a method for how the bike winners would be chosen.

“I made calendars for each grade, and students had to read a certain amount of minutes and include which books they were reading,” Johnson said. “The students who achieved and went over the goal had their names put into a drawing to win a bike.”

The Corinthian Lodge raised money to provide three bikes and helmets for students in the fall and four bikes and helmets for students in the spring. Teachers at Elmhurst saw a 30-percent increase in reading minutes and participation after the fall bikes were awarded.

This increase serves the exact purpose of Bikes for Books, which is run to reward reading proficiency by awarding bikes to top students.

“This is just one more tool to motivate the kids to read,” Johnson said. “They set goals for themselves and get excited to read.”

With the success that the Bikes for Books program had at Elmhurst this school year, the goal of both the Masonic Lodge and the elementary school is to continue to grow the fall and spring program to fund more bikes and helmets to give out to more students who are making top marks in their reading.

With enough funding, Johnson said the plan includes extending Bikes for Books to other schools in the Franklin-Pierce district, enhancing student participation and excitement when it comes to reading.

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