CHICAGO, April 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Striving to inspire lifelong interest in reading among Chicago public school children, educational content and technology provider Follett Corporation and Reading Is Fundamental in Chicago today named 13 local students as winners of the 2013-14 Follett Essay and Poster Contest.
Students from a dozen elementary, middle and high schools were invited to put their writing and artistic skills to the test, capturing the theme "The World is Yours!—Where do you see yourself when you're 25 and how will books shape your life?" Winners were selected from 54 finalists who submitted either an essay or poster.
"Literacy is the cornerstone of a well-rounded education, which is why it is so important that students have access to age-appropriate books at school and at home," said Mary Lee Schneider, president and CEO of Follett Corporation. "Today the ratio in some low-income neighborhoods is startling—one book for every 300 children. Partnering with Reading Is Fundamental in Chicago, we're seeking ways to expand access to books and achieve greater reading proficiency among our kids across the city."
Joined by more than 250 classmates and teachers, the winners received their awards at a ceremony on Friday, April 25, at the Harold Washington Library. Brian Bannon, commissioner of the Chicago Public Library, recognized the winners for their efforts.
Follett provided each contest winner with financial awards ranging from $50 to $250, trophies and a small library of books. The contest finalists also will receive books from Follett. Each of the students attending the event also took home a book of their choosing provided by RIF in Chicago.
"Presenting students with a choice of books is an exciting and key part of the program because it gives students—some of whom have never owned a book—the opportunity to experience the power and potential of imagination that comes from reading," said Evan Georgi, executive director of Reading is Fundamental in Chicago.
The annual contest is more than 10 years old, as is the partnership between Follett and Reading Is Fundamental in Chicago. During that period, the contests have recognized nearly 200 students.
Students were placed in three essay categories: primary, intermediate and upper, representing 1st through 8th grade students. Poster winners included 1st through 12th grade students.
First-place essay winners include: Sapna Patel, Alessandro Volta Elementary School; Isela Meraz, Rhodes Elementary School; and Celine Perez, Alessandro Volta Elementary School.
Second-place essay winners include:Amna Sivac, George B. Swift Elementary Specialty School; Aaron Huang, Robert Healy Elementary School; and William Grove, Christopher Columbus School.
Third-place essay winners include: Thomaia Thomas, Perkins Bass Elementary School; Nousseir Bahlous, George B. Swift Elementary Specialty School; and Mendy Kong, Robert Healy Elementary School.
Poster winners include:Adam Krol, Rhodes Elementary School; Yayan Deng, Robert Healy Elementary School; Fernanda Villalpando, Louis Pasteur Elementary School; and Kaylynn Jackson, Manley Career Academy.
Since 1873, Follett has served as the trusted partner in education for students and educators at all levels of learning. Today Follett delivers physical and digital learning materials, retail services, school content and management systems to more than 70,000 early childhood, primary and secondary schools, and on more than 1,000 college campuses. Headquartered in Westchester, Illinois, Follett is a $2.7 billion privately held company.
Reading Is Fundamental in Chicago encourages children to love reading, thereby expanding their world and enhancing their chance of participating and succeeding within it. Since 1972, RIF in Chicago has pursued this mission by distributing over three and a half million books to inner-city children through a network which now includes 60 Chicago area public schools and 3 academic programs. RIF in Chicago impacts 40,000 Chicago children living in poverty every year by providing children with books to read and keep and through creative programming for teachers and families designed to improve literacy.