HASLETT - Today was the day third, fourth and fifth graders at Murphy Elementary had been waiting and working hard for all year.
“The Masonic Organization is a national program to encourage reading in elementary schools,” said member of the Okemos Masonic Lodge Mike Nevells.
And what better way to encourage reading than to make it a contest.
From November through May, the Haslett and Okemos elementary schools and district libraries had forms sitting out for elementary students to fill out and enter in a drawing for every seven books they read. At the end of the year, the Okemos Masonic Lodge #252 picked up the forms and drew two winners from each grade to win the grand prize; brand new bikes.
This is the fourth year the Bikes for Books contest has taken place in Okemos and Haslett, but this is the first year all seven elementary schools have participated giving away a total of 31 bikes and safety helmets.
“The kids were wowed last year when they came to the assembly and they got these bikes for reading,” said Principal of Murphy Elementary Diane Lindberg. “So, the program was extended this year to third, fourth and fifth and really a lot of the children participated.”
This year, Meijer was the corporate sponsor providing all of the bikes and some of the helmets. Other sponsors included Graff Chevrolet, Okemos Lodge Brothers, MSU Federal Credit Union and several other local businesses.
But students weren’t the only lucky ones benefiting from the contest.
Each participating school received a $50 gift card to Schuler Books to expand their libraries. The school with the most books read total received a $200 gift card to the book store and this year Cornell Elementary was the school to come out on top.
The Okemos Masonic Lodge looks forward to continuing Bikes for Books to keep encouraging kids to read.
“That’s really the heart of Masons is the community and we can think of nothing better than encouraging young people to fall in love with and read books,” Nevells said. “Selfishly, there’s no more excitement than seeing a third or fourth or fifth grader jump up and down when they win a bike. That’s just very rewarding.”