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Makayla Barringer, from left, Jarrod Baldwin and Tyler Burleson, all first-graders at Bradley Elementary School, look over some books Friday in the school’s library.

Bradley Elementary School librarian Dean Russell has started his own “American Idol”-themed competition.

Similar to the popular Fox reality show, Bradley Idol is a creative reading incentive program, where students and teachers compete to win prizes, as well as the title of the next Bradley Idol.

“I tried to think of something the kids would get excited about,” Russell said.

“They have to have an incentive.”

After hearing his students ask one another if they watched the show the night before, and debating over who should become the next American Idol, Russell decided an idol-themed competition would be a unique way to get the kids motivated to read.

Although the school year was already half over, Russell was able to get school principal Sandra Sheatsley and the classroom teachers on board for a friendly, end-of-year competition.

“It’s a fabulous program,” Sheatsley said.

“What he’s done, exciting the children over the past three weeks with the idol project, is amazing.”

Bradley Idol has already had a clear impact on the students’ desire to read.

Since its inception 18 days ago, students have already read 4,893 books.

To compete in Bradley Idol, every student (first through fifth grade) is encouraged to check out books from the school library.

Students are given a Web-based accelerated reading quiz which monitors their reading and comprehension levels after they finish reading each book.

When students merit a 100 percent score on the quiz, they are eligible to cast a vote for their classroom teacher.

And at the end of each week, the teacher with the lowest number of votes is cast off and is no longer eligible for the title of Bradley Idol.

The teacher with the highest number of votes at the end of the school year will be named Bradley Idol.

Eckley Orthodontics will provide the Bradley Idol with a winning gift from Bath and Body Works. The winning classroom will get a classroom pizza party.

Students with the highest accelerated reading scores at the end of the competition will get to throw a pie in the face of Sheatsley at the school field day celebration held the last week of school.

“The response is unbelievable,” Russell said.

“You should hear the screaming. When they announce in the morning (over the PA) who’s in first place, I can hear the classes screaming. They just love it.”

Russell encourages other schools to implement programs such as Bradley Idol into their curriculum.

“We’re sending children out in a world where we have no idea what the world will be. If we create thinkers, and if we create children who can read through material, who can decipher important parts of that material, we’ve done our job,” Sheatsley said.

“And to have the excitement on top of it, that’s a great thing.”

— E-mail: jayres@register-herald.com

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