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Reading, lunch: a powerful duo

October 31, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

Most El Centro business professionals usually don't pick up "Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales" for lunchtime reading.

Many adults, however, will be flipping through children's books in preparation for Power Lunches, a program linking business professionals with local second-grade students. Beginning next month, volunteers will read a story to groups of six children about twice a month as a way to encourage literacy among students.

Grace Lutheran School in El Centro and the El Centro Elementary School District are partnering with the El Centro Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau to get this year's Power Lunches going.

This is the third year El Centro Elementary has used Power Lunches. It's a program many have found successful.

"It is just wonderful," said Washington Elementary School second-grade teacher Tamara Adam. Her students have been read to by Power Lunch business readers in the past.


"The kids really look forward to it," she said.

"You can see their (the students') interest that someone from outside has taken the time to come and be with them," Adam said.

Not only are Power Lunches entertaining for kids, they can foster a love of reading, said El Centro Elementary School District Superintendent Michael Klentschy.

The business people serve as informal mentors to students by reading stories and talking to them, Klentschy said.

"It demonstrates to the kids the value of reading," he said.

The program is also good for volunteers, Adam said.

"It's really good for the community to come in and see how it is to be on the campus," Adam said.

Power Lunches are not exclusive to El Centro. The program is based on a similar one in Washington, D.C., and is used at other Imperial Valley schools.

Having found success with Power Lunches the district decided to try it again, Klentschy said. This time, Grace Lutheran is participating.

The El Centro chamber and the schools are looking for volunteers. Organizers ask that interested men and women read to their groups of students twice a month for 20 minutes. Some groups share lunch while others meet at different times convenient for teachers and volunteers.

To become a Power Lunch business reader, call 352-5712 ext. 515.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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