Wasilla Middle School, as an institution, has made it a primary goal to help its student body achieve success through a philosophy of “healthy minds meeting healthy bodies.” At the core of this idea is to ultimately have a fun experience. Thus, a reading incentive program was born.
In the past 10 years, students at Wasilla Middle have had the chance to read books to earn a trip to Alyeska. This year, they decided to try something different — by using local activities and businesses.
In the second quarter of the school year, students who read four or more books were able to go swimming at the Wasilla Pool. In the third quarter, four more books had to be read to go ice skating.
The turnout, to say the least, was excellent. An impressive 107 students went swimming and another 95 ice skating.
On the other hand, those numbers are only a small percentage of reading going on at Wasilla Middle School. When looking at the results of Accelerated Reader tests from this school of more than 800, 56 percent of the students read at least one book. When this is combined with the students reading multiple books, an outstanding 4,633 books were read.
But that’s not all — a reward was offered for students who were able to read 10 or more books from October 27 to March 17 — the chance to go rock climbing at the Wasilla rock gym Rock On Climbing, on April 10. Out of the 78 total eligible students, around 50 students went, and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
The gym, just open this past December and located on Wasilla Fishhook by Denali Gymnastics, has already become a community hotspot, with its slack lines, bouldering wall and top-rope climbing wall open for use by all ages. The students, some brand-new to the experience, others already visitors to the locale, were able to say they had a great time, either through trying something new or making use of skills learned from previous experience.
Although this year’s events ended up differently from those of years past, it has been a resounding success. Not only were more students able to participate in local events, but local businesses were able to see more of the local population.
These are just the kind of programs our area needs – promoting academic achievement through active, civic-minded events, “healthy minds meeting healthy bodies.” As our young residents recognize the value of their community, and the value of investing in the community they come from, the future of the Valley as a growing region will be secured.
Anita Laulainen is a senior at Mat-Su Career and Technical High School.