Elementary students receive bicycles for participation in reading program

In June, members of Masonic Ocean Lodge 142 in Wells awarded 60 new bicycles, helmets, and t-shirts to Wells Elementary School students who participated in this year’s Masonic Bikes for Books reading incentive program sponsored by the Maine Masonic Charitable Foundation and donations from area businesses and individuals.

This was WES’s seventh year participating in the program which is coordinated at WES by literary specialist and Director of Academic Recovery Bonnie Esty.

“The Masons have been so amazing to work with,” commented Esty in an email. “They have donated bikes for not only reading during the school year, but (on a smaller scale) for the past two summers. They are a wonderful group who are so easy and pleasant to work with. Throughout the program, they have donated over 300 bikes for students at WES.”

The contest started earlier this spring when first through fourth-grade students selected books that they found interesting and wanted to read. Each book read by a student earned him or her an entry into their classroom’s later drawing for a bike.

Masonic members presenting bikes to students on June 13th included Ken Creed, John Howarth, Alan Martin, Wayne Smith, and Tim Yates.

Bicycles given out this year at WES were ordered through Wal-Mart.com at a cost of $6,000. The Maine Masonic Charitable Foundation donated half of that amount with the balance donated by individuals and local businesses. As in the past, members of Ocean Lodge 142 assembled the bikes.

Bikes for Books not only motivates students to read more but encourages more healthy outdoor summer activities away from the computer, phone, and tablet screens. According to the Maine Masonic Charitable Foundation’s website, the objectives of the program are “to increase student reading and comprehension skills, to recognize positive student achievements, (and) to provide an attainable goal, with life-enhancing results.” Perhaps most important of all is that evidence has shown that schools participating in the Bikes for Books program have seen improved reading scores among their students.

Standing behind five of the students to receive bikes this year are (l-r) John Howarth, Alan Martin, Bonnie Esty, Timothy Yates, Kenneth Creed, Wayne Smith, and WES Principal Kyle Burnell. In front (l-r) are students Anna Hubbard, Emma Flaherty, James Curtis, Eric Lee, and Emma Jenkins.