SMCS Reading Olympics: A Marathon Not A Sprint

St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) recognizes and celebrates those individuals who still have a passion for avid reading, through several initiatives, including the Reading Olympics.

Active readers are few and far between in a world of social media --- especially those aged 12-17.

St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) recognizes and celebrates those individuals who still have a passion for avid reading, through several initiatives, including the Reading Olympics.

The 2018-19 Reading Olympic students gather with their favourite book in hand in our Odette Library.

Now in its 11th year, the Reading Olympics encourages students to go above and beyond their required curriculum reading by obtaining over double their required reading Accelerated Reading Points (ARP) for the year.

The ARP program promotes a positive recreational reading experience: students select books that appeal to them, thereby personalizing reading practice to each student’s individual reading level. 

After reading an ARP book at his reading level, the student takes a short quiz on a computer or iPad in the classroom, supervised by his English teacher. 

The Reading Olympics, led by the Odette Library continues to attract and impact a growing number of students who value reading.

A Real Page Turner

“The enthusiasm of our 40+ Reading Olympians this academic year was infectious,” says Sandy Gray, Head Librarian at SMCS. “In two grades, students earned the highest points recorded for their grade in the Reading Olympics' 11-year history,” she says.

“The Odette Library staff loves to sponsor annual literacy initiatives like the Reading Olympics and the Battle of the Bards poetry contest, to encourage reading and show students how these reading and writing skills transcend classroom application,” says Gray.

“In an era when screens dominate and ‘edutainment’ is ubiquitous, it's wonderful to see students read and willingly take comprehension quizzes. This is especially true in an all-boys environment, where historically statistics show that interest in reading is on the decline and it can be a challenge to normalize reading for fun,” she says.

Power of the Written Word

What drives students to become avid readers? Where does the passion come from?

Christopher Notarandrea (Grade 9), David Koen (Grade 7), Darcy Blaik (Grade 8), Jose Corral (Grade 10)

“I really enjoy reading a variety of books and I love competing against my friends,” says Darcy Blaik, a Grade 8 student. “This is my second year of participating in the Reading Olympics. I love to read, and I read a lot of books anyways, so this was just a fun way to emulate my enjoyment of reading,” he says.

Koen, a Grade 7 student says, “It means to me that I am committed to something important and a goal that I created for myself for my time at St. Michael’s.”

Literacy is encouraged in other ways at SMCS, including: book talks, visits by authors, the annual SMCS Reads! campaign as well as through promotional displays in the Odette Library.