Southern Pines Wins All-America City Award
Southern Pines has been named an All-America City.
The town was one of 32 finalists competing for the prestigious award sponsored by the National Civic League. The 14 winners were announced this afternoon in Denver, Colo.
The town was nominated for its Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Community Network, a collective strategy designed to engage the community in the learning process. Called Southern Pines Grows Great Readers, the campaign dovetails with the schools’ slogan “Growing to Greatness.”
The National Civic League, which sponsors the annual award competition, usually asks entrants to provide three community improvement projects. For this year, the National Civic League joined with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to emphasize education.
More than 100 cities submitted their plans to solve reading problems, and that was whittled to 32.
Southern Pines Library Director Lynn Thompson, her husband, Bob Howell, Caroline Eddy, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club, PineStraw’s Cos Barnes are in Denver for the conference and went up to accept the award.
"Of course we're delighted that the National Civic League has recognized the plan developed by our team in designating Southern Pines an All-America City," Thompson said after the ceremony ended. "But the importance of our proposal in support of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading goes far beyond this one award.
"The real winners will be all the children in our schools who will benefit from the combined efforts of all the partners who developed our plan and will be implementing it in the months and years to come."
The campaign strategy calls for attacking on three fronts: school readiness, attendance and summer learning loss. This program is designed to ensure students arrive to kindergarten ready to learn, attend school regularly and keep learning through summer months.
Addressing the reading problems in schools has been a long process. After collecting data, the Growing Great Readers committee realized that Southern Pines is above the national average for third grade reading but falls behind in subsequent grades.
Not reading on level by third grade drastically decreases the likelihood the student will graduate, according to education research.
The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines Public Library and Boys and Girls Club are expanding their summer reading programs to increase literacy. The library sponsors different summer books clubs and family nights to encourage reading while not in school.
The campaign has branded itself with Ready Freddy the frog. Ready Freddy creates a unified front of the supporters of the program. As an example, the Southern Pines K9 unit dogs wear a Ready Freddy patch when they visit schools.
For more on this story, see Wednesday's edition of The Pilot.
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