NEW SHARON – Cape Cod Hill School’s month long Iditaread Reading Incentive Program came to a close just before April break. It came as a relief for many at home, whose hands had become weary from signing off on all of their young mushers’ reading minutes.
A take-off from Alaska’s mighty Iditarod Dog Sled race, the Iditaread required students to move along 17 checkpoints by reading or being read to for at least 20 minutes per day. Classes could advance two checkpoints per school day. Some teams quickly realized that slow and steady truly does win the race, rather than sporadic long reading sessions. Strategy could really come into play in deciding when and where teams took their required eight and 24-hour rests within certain checkpoints.
This year’s Iditarod was a bit more challenging due to Covid. Many mushers could not attend due to travel restrictions. The course was different in that it was an out and back, starting from Deshka Landing, out to Iditrod and back, requiring teams to cross the treacherous Alaska Range twice. Mushers slept in tents with frigid temperatures to ensure social distancing. In an attempt to keep large crowds out of Alaska’s remote towns, required checkpoints were in unpopulated areas, removing mushers’ moral support from spectators.
Mrs. Richard’s first grade class crossed the finish line just before the warm weather caused the snow to be unsafe for travel. The winning team of readers found that the work was much easier when the whole team contributed. Readers found attention to details were important when filling in their reading slips completely.
They learned that timeliness is important, turning in their slips each morning if they wanted their minutes to count. Many readers showed perseverance, continuing to read for the full month, even when they may have wanted to quit. Participants demonstrated good sportsmanship in both winning graciously, and in praising the winning team. Top readers showed they could handle disappointment when they saw their desired prize be chosen by another. With many lessons learned along the race course, it is time to look toward our summer training, being sure to continue our good reading habits. Until next year, mush on!