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The annual Bikes for Books program in Union County is again rolling. Elementary school students at participating schools who read a certain number of books over a 11 1/2-month period will be eligible for drawings for bicycles in May. DICK MASON - The Observer
Program inspires elementary students to take spins through Union County libraries
The local Bikes for Books program is again inspiring many elementary students to take additional spins through libraries in Union County.
Students at participating schools are visiting libraries more frequently as they read books in an effort to qualify for drawings for bicycles in May.
Students at participating schools must read 13 books at their grade level or higher over a 12 month period to qualify for the drawings. About 20 bikes will be given away to students at participating schools next May via the program, which is run by the La Grande Masonic Lodge.
“It is a wonderful program,’’ said Imbler School District Superintendent Doug Hislop.
The superintendent said the program definitely inspires students to read more books. The annual program also brings unforgettable smiles to the faces of many students. Hislop recalled how exciting it was to see a boy from a low-income family who did not have a good bike, win one recently.
Bicycles to be awarded at each participating school in Union County will be put on display in January. Helmets are given to each bike winner and to others who did not win a bike but had their names drawn for other prizes. Hislop said that close to 40 helmets have been given Imbler Elementary students via Bikes for Books.
The 2012-13 Bikes for Books program started May 15 and will run to May 1, 2013, in Central and Greenwood elementary schools in La Grande, Island City Elementary School and Imbler Elementary School.
Drawings for the bikes will be made at end of the school year assemblies.
The winners of drawings for bikes in the program in the 2011-12 school year and the grades and schools the students were in at the time were:
• Central Elementary School — Elle Berry, fourth grade, and Arlo Vandervlugt, first grade.
• Greenwood Elementary School — Amber Kirby,
• Island City Elementary School — Brenna Strand, third grade; Sammie Vavra, first grade; Westin Blake, fourth grade; and Tristan Hanson, fourth grade.
Imbler Elementary School — Erin Coston, third grade; Kendra Counsell, second grade; Jayce Burnette, fourth grade; and Hunter Teem, sixth grade.
Masons who assisted with the awards program in 2011-12 included Larry Vermillion, Lance Shoemaker, Ed Shaul, Leland Sams, Randy King and Fred Arnst.
The program was started in La Grande in 2007. Today four other cities in Oregon run a Bikes for Books