Berlin, Middlebury schools both in running for up to $68k in contest

BERLIN -- With public school funding on the decline, grant money is like gold! Two Connecticut schools are hoping to strike gold in a nationwide contest that rewards reading.

The contest, called the "Follett Challenge," is designed to give educators a platform to share the innovative ways their schools are engaging students with the "four Cs."

"They're basically looking for creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication," said Rachel Rice, Library Media Specialist at McGee Middle School in Berlin.

McGee is one of two Connecticut middle schools in the running for over $60,000 in goods for their libraries.

Among the unique ways Middlebury's Memorial Middle School reels in more readers: a game called "speed booking," on the school's literacy night.

"Everybody brings their favorite book and they have two minutes to tell their partner about the book," said Barbara Marano, a 6th grade teacher at Memorial.

"You get a little bit of the book, but then that kind of makes you want to read the rest of that book," said 6th grade student Nate Snyder.

Twenty percent of the entrant's total score comes from a five minute video that schools submit highlighting their reading or literacy initiatives.

"It was made with love and care of reading and it was pretty cool," said Audrey Finn, another 6th grade student.

"If you like to read, this is definitely a good school because we have a really good library, full of really fun books to read," said Marco Minichiello, also a 6th grader.

Another 6th grader at the Middlebury school, Madison Rowinski, had an idea about how to reel in those who are not excited about reading. "Maybe you could find a book and read the back and, if you like it, you could read it," she said.

Jenna Zup, an 8th grader at McGee, sums it up. "Reading is a life skill you're going to need," she said.

You can log on to the Follett Challenge website to vote for your favorite school video. Voting ends Friday, January 27.

Semifinalists, who can win $30,000 and People’s Choice Video Winners, eligible for $8,000 awards will be announced February 28.  The Grand Prize winner will be announced April 28.