Students at Sealey Elementary school are being encouraged to “Go For the Gold” this year as the school kicks off its annual reading campaign. More than 200 students packed the cafeteria-turned -auditorium of Sealey Elementary School Monday to hear LeVonne Idlette—a student at the Florida A&M University College of Law who competed in the 100 meter hurdles during the 2012 Olympic games in London.
“When I talk to older kids I usually say, everything comes down to what you want and what your goals are. You have to make a schedule and stick to it—even if you have to do it without sleep.”
For Idlette, a dual Citizen of the U.S. and the Dominican Republic, that goal was getting to the Olympics. And that meant waking up at 6 am in the morning, studying, and then having breakfast, only to be at practice at 9 am, Lifting weights at noon, and by 3 pm enduring a physical Rehabilitation session. After that, its on to night classes at FAMU's College of Law in Orlando, from 6-9 pm.
“Then I study for the rest of the evening and do paperwork for the business,” she laughs.
Idlette, who also owns and runs a small hair salon, ran for the Dominican Republic in the Olympics. And, while she didn’t snag any medals this time around, she’s got her sights set on Rio De Janerio—the site of the 2016 Olympic games.
“Right now I’m training for Moscow 2013, which is world championships. But I’m also training for the next Olympic cycle. Four years is a long time. So it’s going to take staying healthy, staying focus, and lots and lots of hard work.”
Idlette was a part of Sealey Elementary School’s “Accelerated Reader” kick-off event, to encourage kids to read. The Accelerated Reader Program has been in public schools across the country for nearly two decades, and is a computer-based software program that quizzes kids on books they’ve read and helps teachers monitor students’ progress. Sealey is one of many public schools around the state that participate in the program, and Leon County Superintendent Jackie Pons says, he’s a fan.
“What we want to do is teach our kids to love to read and if you look at those who are good readers, they have a passion for reading,” Pons said.
Florida education officials are putting their focus on reading after results from this year’s Florida Comprehensive Assessment test showed a significant drop in reading scores. The state raised its requirements and the drop off wasn’t unexpected. Pons, who was also recognized as “Sealey Superstar” for having attended the school when he was a child, says one of the best things parents can do for their children, is to give them reading material that they like to read.