This month, 295 elementary students in Seattle and Highline school districts graduated from the Team Read program.

Students and teen reading coaches celebrated at their tutoring sites with pizza parties, diplomas, free books courtesy of Page Ahead, game tickets from the Seattle Sounders and reward ticket vouchers courtesy of the Seattle Mariners.

Coaches and students also had quiet moments of reflection, to say good-bye to each other and set reading goals for the summer.

Many coaches were quick to praise the hard work their students have done all year in the program.  “Esmerelda is really starting to recognize vocabulary and she’s sounding out difficult words,” said her reading coach, Jenny.  “She’s also doing a great job of understanding the books that she reads.”

Student reader Laticia completed two Harry Potter novels during her time in Team Read, and she said she’s excited to get her hands on the next book in the series.  She set a personal goal to read for 20 minutes a day, and she achieved that goal, even if it meant staying up a little past her bedtime.

“The secret is to just keep reading a lot,” Laticia noted.  “If you don’t read, you don’t learn stuff you don’t know.”

Dearborn Park site coordinator Kenya Berard is excited about the “huge” leaps in reading made by her Team Read kids.  In particular, she said she was impressed by students who juggled reading in English with growth in their native language.  “A strong foundation in a native language is so important to become a good reader,” she noted.