This summer, students at University Hills Elementary School participated in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, placing first in the state for the third consecutive year. University Hills started participating in the challenge to engage and excite readers during the K-3+ Program. This year, students set a goal to read 1,000,000 minutes over the summer and exceeded their goal by doubling it, reading a total of 2,016,878 minutes. Students started the challenge on May 7 and completed it on Sept. 7.

Las Cruces School Board Member Ray Jaramillo and world champion boxer Austin Trout take a selfie with student champions of the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge at University Hills Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018.

Las Cruces School Board Member Ray Jaramillo and world champion boxer Austin Trout take a selfie with student champions of the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge at University Hills Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018.

Former associate librarian Nancy Syner spearheaded the challenge for students the first year they participated, leading them to place first in the state, reading 127,000 minutes. The second year, students read more than 500,000 minutes, taking first place in New Mexico once again.

“Setting summertime goals for students is yet another way that our dedicated teachers continue to drive learning beyond the classroom,” said Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Greg Ewing. “We couldn’t be more proud to hear that these students exceeded their reading goal for the third consecutive year, once again leading the state.”

Students at University Hills Elementary attend an assembly during which they were recognized for placing first in the state in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

Students at University Hills Elementary attend an assembly during which they were recognized for placing first in the state in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

This year, students at University Hills ranked sixth in the nation for minutes read. On Wednesday, students and staff were joined by district officials, school board members and world champion boxer Austin Trout to celebrate their achievement.

The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is now led by associate librarian Ashley Maki and literacy chairperson Jackee Scarborough. The collaborative effort between the school’s literacy team, teachers, students and parents has made the challenge a success that continues to promote the joy of reading for students at University Hills, according to Principal Kelly Mahres.

— Samantha Lewis, LCPS Public Relations Coordinator, 575-527-5946, slewis@lcps.net