McKinley third-grade classroom wins bookshelf United Way reading contest

Metro Wire Staff

Third graders in Shana Halverson’s McKinley Elementary classroom have been recognized after winning a January reading contest.

Blenker Companies, based in Amherst, designed a unique bookshelf for the students after they read an average of 325 minutes during the first three weeks of the year. The bookshelf was filled with books and delivered by the Peter Blenker, and his wife Pam Jewell, on Jan. 31.

Laura Pfeil, community services manager for the local United Way, said the contest was open to all third-grade classrooms, and 17 participated. Eleven of the classrooms met or exceeded their goals, she said, so the bookshelf was awarded by random drawing.

All participating classrooms received a set of “Dog Man: The Epic Collection” books.

All told, students read a combined 109,096 minutes.

“Every one of the 17 classrooms did an amazing job in reading,” Pfeil said.

As an added bonus, Blenker and Jewell also gave each student in Halverson’s classroom a writing journal.

Blenker and Jewell, along with the rest of their family, led the United Way campaign as drive chairs in 2017. They, along with their three sons, own and operate Blenker Companies, Inc., in Amherst.

United Way’s Learn for Life sponsored the contest. Learn for Life provides second- and third-grade students who struggle with reading a tutor on a regular basis to increase reading achievement. Nearly all schools in Portage County participate in the program.

More than 100 volunteers serve as tutors, but tutors and substitute tutors are still needed in several schools. To volunteer, or for more information, go to unitedwaypoco.org/learnforlife or call (715) 341-6740.