PUEBLO COUNTY — Two schools in Pueblo County showed that it pays to read. The Pueblo Library district honored South Mesa Elementary School with an assembly on Monday after 100 percent of the school's 322 students participated in the $1 million summer reading challenge.
John Neumann Catholic School in Pueblo was the other school to clock in at 100 percent participation.
Over the summer students in Pueblo County were challenged to check out 10 items from any of the Pueblo libraries and provide a response to the Library District about what they read. If they were able to complete the challenge they would receive $100.
"Well I read a lot of leadership books so I learned how to be a leader and lead and try to stay positive," said South Mesa Elementary student Skylar Snell.
In total, more than 7,000 students got $100 from the program.
The money comes from federal stimulus funds distributed to the City of Pueblo and Pueblo County through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA.)
Jon Walker, Executive Director of the Pueblo Library District, said summer reading programs prevent learning loss between the school years.
"With this special disruption that happened this last school year, we know that that is sort of redoubled," he explained. "You had sort of a disrupted school year, some of the kids didn't get their full educational interaction, and then the idea was well, they'll have even more with the summer."
Before the challenge, the library district had already given out $350,000 worth of certificates for kids to take to the bank to earn their cash reward.
Walker said many of the students opted to put their reward money in savings for college.