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Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner speaks Tuesday to 
students at Western Avenue School in Flossmoor.
(Provided photo)

Illinois’ first lady Tuesday paid tribute to Western Avenue School students for taking first place, statewide, in this summer’s Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

Diana Rauner praised Western Avenue students during a visit to the Flossmoor school.

Over the summer, students read for a total of 571,210 minutes. That was the most of any school in Illinois, said Western Avenue Principal Chad Prosen. Across the nation, the school ranked 73rd among 6,229 schools that participated in the competition.

Western Avenue, one of five schools in Flossmoor District 161, has students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” Rauner told students at the assembly. “After all the great reading you did, you’re Number One in the State of Illinois.”

Rauner said it was “extraordinary” that Western Avenue students accomplished more than one year of solid reading – about 396 days – during the summer. She said reading is one of the great loves of her life and that she looks forward to the time each evening when she is able to turn to a book “that takes you away from everyday life and introduces you to new friends.”

“It is a wonderful place to go every day,” she said.

The first lady read a proclamation from her husband, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, recognizing Western Avenue students for their first place finish in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

“I am so incredibly proud of our students for all their hard work,” Prosen said Wednesday. “Our district leadership, teachers and staff, and our parents and guardians are so supportive in their encouragement of our students’ learning. All these stakeholders should be very proud.”

In an interview with Scholastic’s “On Our Mind” blog about reading and books, Prosen said school officials saw the Reading Challenge as a good way to address summer regression that they sometimes see in student progress.

 “We launched a school wide assembly at the end of the 2014-15 school year that included professional BMX bikers coming to our school to promote reading,” he said in the interview.

Over the summer, Western Avenue teachers kept parents involved through various social media outlets and digital communication tools, Prosen said.

“Additionally, we have a very involved parental community that stresses the importance of education with their children. Having received this distinction is a true credit to them as well,” he said.

Western Avenue School students pose for a photo with 
Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner.
(Provided photo)



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