ALBANY — As a way to motivate Albany’s children to advance their reading habits, West Town Elementary School treated its students to a Leaping Lexile kick-off pep rally last week.

The Leaping Lexile program encourages the students whose Lexile levels, or reading levels, elevate over the school year. The Monroe High School cheerleaders, Monroe High drum line, Albany State University cheerleaders and several motorcycle riders were among those to help get the effort started Friday — assistance the school’s faculty and staff said they appreciated.

The main focus is to ensure students get to the proper reading level for their respective grades.

“A lot of them are at their (reading) level, but some are not. … Some are not even close to grade level, truth be told,” said Leah Sandbach, the school’s media specialist.

There are three levels a student can achieve: Gold, Silver and Bronze. In order to achieve Gold, a student has to raise his or her level by 250 points. Two Gold students per grade will win a bicycle or cash, whichever they prefer.

This year, there are 44 bicycles up for grabs. This is the second year the school has conducted the program, which so far has shown to be effective in encouraging students to improve their reading skills, Sandbach said.

Last year, there were 60 students who achieved the Gold level.

“It is really hard to raise their levels by that much,” Sandbach said.

“Going for the Gold” is the phrase West Town’s faculty is using to drive their students to continue to work on their reading. In the front hallway of the school, there is a display on the wall representing hurdles for all three levels.

When a student reaches a new level, the pupil’s picture is placed by the respective hurdle. The idea is to give them an incentive to continue advancing their literacy efforts, which, in turn, might help them be better students overall — and result in an improvement of the school as a whole.

“The more students we have reading on grade level, (the more we) will soar as a school,” Sandbach said.

There were more than 20 bicycles awarded last year. One winner was a fifth-grader who gave her prize to a friend who did not have a bicycle. It was announced Friday afternoon that if enough students reach their Lexile level, there will be another pep rally later in the school year.

Staff Writer

I'm a 2007 graduate of Georgia Southern University, and I've been a reporter for The Albany Herald since 2008. I cover news related to health care, Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, SOWEGA Council on Aging and other areas as assigned.

Stay Informed