Readers rewarded with brand new bikes

11 years ago
Aroostook Republican photo/Natalie De La Garza
    Teague Park student Michael Cyr smiled as he picked up his brand new bike through the Caribou Masonic Lodge’s Bikes for Books program.

By Natalie De La Garza
Staff Writer

    CARIBOU — Cheers and shouts and whoops and hollers echoed around the region last week, as students at four elementary schools won free bikes for reading books through the Bikes for Books program organized by members of the Caribou Masonic Lodge and sponsored by area businesses.
    Some kids read dozens of books specifically for the opportunity to win a free bike while others only read a few — but all students read, and that’s the important part according to Chaplain of the Caribou Masonic Lodge David Spooner.

    “With Bikes for Books, it’s about youth literacy — and literacy is something that helps the community and it helps the individual,” he said.
    At the New Sweden School, for instance, 29 students in first through fourth grades read a total of 172 books during the month of April in conjunction with the program. For each ability appropriate book the students read, they reported on it for their teachers and were entered into the raffle — the more kids read and wrote, the more chances they had at winning a bike. 
    Concluding their participating in this year’s program with the delivery of bikes last week were New Sweden, the Woodland Consolidated School, Hilltop Elementary and Teague Park Elementary. The Connor school is also participating, but their bike delivery is scheduled for mid-June.
    “They started reading I think the day I called [the principal], and they’re going to keep reading right up until the end of school,” Spooner said.
    Connor students will have an opportunity to earn raffle tickets by reading books right up until Friday, June 14.
    While the Caribou Masonic Lodge is obviously based out of Caribou, its members hail from different communities in the area like Woodland, New Sweden and Connor, which is why lodge members reached out to all five schools.
    But the worthwhile program wouldn’t have gotten off of the ground without the support of businesses in the area.
    Each brand-new bike came with a price tag of $75, and local businesses helped the Masons fundraise over $2,000 to reward well-read students with new bikes.
    “The Caribou lodge organizes [the Bikes for Books program], but it’s the businesses of Caribou who really make this possible,” Spooner said. “Without them, we could never, ever do this project.”
    One business for instance sponsored one bike last year — and this year they supported two.
    “They see the value in getting kids to read, and shutting off the TV and getting outside,” Spooner said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t give every kid a bike, but it does give them incentive to read — one student said he read 24 books!”
    While there is a lot of hard work involved with organizing the Bikes for Books program — like gathering a dozen Masons to assemble all 36 bikes in one evening — Spooner and his fellow Masons believe it’s worth it.
    “There is a lot of work … but seeing the smiles on their faces and seeing the other kids cheering — that’s what makes it worthwhile,” he said. “This program is going to continue because it is so worth it for the kids.”

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Contributed photo by Laurie Sheehan
    Woodland Consolidated School winners of the annual Bikes for Books program through the Caribou Masonic Lodge were, from left, third-graders Juliet Littleton and  Daniel Arce, fourth-graders Macy Wakem and Wyatt Grant, second-graders Caitlyn Arce and Jakob Oliver and first-graders Daniel Zappone and Natalie Landeen.
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Contributed photo
    Six New Sweden students have brand new bicycles, thanks to the Bikes for Books program through the Caribou Masonic Lodge; they are, from left, Jordon Sandstrom, Emily Gendreau, Evan Margeson, Amalla Peterson, Maggie Landeen and Lars Spooner. In conjunction with Masons delivering bikes to the school on May 14, the school had special guest Julie French, bicycle safety coordinator for the State of Maine through the Maine Department of Transportation, give three different presentations on bicycle safety to students in grades pre-K through eight.
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Aroostook Republican photo/Natalie De La Garza
    Through the Bikes for Books program of the Caribou Masonic Lodge, eight Teague Park students won brand new bikes for reading. The students whose names were drawn during the raffle were, from left, Abbiegale McNeal, Michael Cyr, Julee Cote, Logan Martin, Carter Quist, Jacob Schidgel, Halie Jalbert and Abby St. Peter.
Contributed photo by Laurie Sheehan
    Bikes for Books winners from Hilltop Elementary School were, from left, front row: Jayden Edgecomb, Serae Drake, Aileen DeLaCruz, Jake Violette, Edward Cooley, Keegan Bell and Colin Dumont; also winning a bike (though absent that day) was Courtney Whitmore. Members of the Caribou Masonic Lodge helping distribute the bikes were, from left, back row: Todd Pelletier, Jerry Drake, Colby Conroy, Wendell Spooner, Paul Harmon and David Spooner.