"READ 180" and "SYSTEM 44" Celebrate Turning Struggling Students into All-Stars


Scholastic recognizes twelve struggling readers in grades 5 through 12
for overcoming the odds and learning to read


New York, NY, April 21, 2010 – Each day, more than 7,000 teenagers will drop out of high school - a full one-third of American high school students. The startling reality is that many of these dropouts struggled with reading and never caught up to their classmates. But one group of students is proving that it’s never too late to learn to read. Today, Scholastic is proud to recognize twelve students in grades 5-12 who have overcome incredible challenges and beat the odds to become thriving, successful readers. With the help of their remarkable teachers, these students are learning to read, staying in school, and are on the path to success in life.

The nine winners of the seventh annual READ 180® All-Star Awards and the three winners of the first annual System 44® All-Star Awards were announced today by Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL), the largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in educational technology and children’s media. The awards program was created to honor children and adolescents nationwide who have learned to read despite formidable odds.

While the recipients of the awards range in age, home state and background, they share similar stories with other struggling readers – poor reading skills resulting in low self-esteem, low achievement levels and the possibility of becoming high school dropouts. Some of the award winners faced additional hurdles: learning English as a second language, special education classification or physical and emotional challenges. Now, they have each accomplished something remarkable—raising their reading scores, feeling more confident in class, boosting their grades, and passing their excitement onto others—and they are now on a path to attend college.

"All students, no matter what challenges they face, can be successful. The READ 180 and System 44 All-Stars are a testament to that," said Margery Mayer, President, Scholastic Education. "We are proud to celebrate the achievements of these students – because of their hard work and the help of their teachers, these All-Stars have turned their lives around and can embrace the bright futures ahead of them."

The 2010 READ 180 All-Star Award winners are:

Elementary School

Katheryn Chavez

  • Age: 11 – Grade: 5 – Mesa, AZ
  • Once a shy girl who spoke only Spanish, Katheryn is now a confident reader and role model for other students.

When Katheryn first moved from Mexico three years ago, she had no knowledge of the English language. She was timid in the classroom and lacked the self-confidence to achieve success. After two years in READ 180, Katheryn is now on level with her fifth grade classmates. She has completely transformed from a once shy and reluctant reader to a role model for her peers. "When I first arrived at Roosevelt Elementary, I was very shy, and was quiet and very scared...READ 180 helped me learn the language, and overcome my shyness. I now even represent my class on the student council. I couldn’t do that before."


Jaquez Person

  • Age 12 – Grade: 6 – Carpentersville, IL
  • In just two years, Jaquez's reading scores jumped five grade levels. Now, he’s an All-Star on and off the basketball court.

Jaquez has always struggled with reading because of a learning disability that prevented him from staying focused and on-task. After two years of reading intervention with READ 180, Jaquez has made outstanding gains—raising his reading scores five grade levels. Jaquez has become a leader on the basketball team and in the classroom. "I feel awesome now that I am achieving my goals. I plan on going to college. I want to be an accountant or a carpenter when I grow up."


Miguel Vasquez

  • Age: 10 – Grade: 5 – Modesto, CA
  • With just one year of intervention with READ 180, Miguel has overcome the struggles of living with Asperger's syndrome and transformed from a frustrated student to a blossoming writer.

Diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, Miguel has always had trouble focusing in the classroom, especially when it came to reading and writing. His struggles with school left him frustrated and unmotivated to finish his assignments. One year later, Miguel is one of the most improved students in his class. He has discovered a love for writing and a newfound confidence in his abilities. "The thing that has made the biggest difference is my writing. Last year I hated to write. I am now writing skits for my classmates to perform in."


Middle School

Daniel Gonzalez

  • Age: 13 – Grade: 7 – Staten Island, NY
  • Daniel hated to read and was often overwhelmed by his assignments. Now this seventh grader is writing poetry and setting the example for his classmates.

When Daniel began READ 180, he was a reluctant reader who preferred to work by himself than collaborate with a group of students. He says, "Before I became a READ 180 student I was struggling. I was a shy kid. I hated reading." Today, Daniel exhibits a willingness to help other students with their work and has shown improvement in his other subjects as well. READ 180 made me realize that I can be smart and confident. I will keep this memory forever."


Ricky Trujillo

  • Age: 15 – Grade: 8 – Martinsburg, WV
  • Ricky moved to America when he was 11 years old. He did not speak English and was ready to give up on school. After two years in READ 180, Ricky's grades have improved across all subjects and he dreams of becoming an architectural engineer.

Ricky had a tough time transitioning from his life in Mexico to his new home in the United States. At school, he was frustrated that he couldn’t learn to read and considered dropping out of school. When his teachers asked him about reading, he responded, "I don't read." Now, after two years of intervention with READ 180, Ricky has transitioned out of the program and is reading at an eighth grade level. "READ 180 has helped me in so many ways. Now I have a goal. I want to be the first member of my family to graduate from high school and college."


Reno Burge

  • Age: 16 – Grade: 8 – Freeport, TX
  • Hurricane Ike took away Reno's home and possessions, but not his determination to succeed. Reno’s All-Star dedication and hard work earned him a spot on the school’s honor roll, and he looks forward to attending college one day.

Reno began his seventh grade year in the wake of Hurricane Ike, his family's home destroyed and their belongings ruined. Reno's motivation in the classroom though was not altered by this tragic event. Before entering READ 180, Reno recalls "I did not feel good about myself. I did not feel confident about myself. I felt embarrassed." Reno has an entirely new outlook on reading after two years in READ 180 and is determined to continue to grow as a reader. "Today, I am able to understand all my classes, especially word problems in math...READ 180 has changed my life!"


High School

Samantha Moody

  • Age: 16 – Grade: 10 – Los Alamitos, CA Samantha received a startling wake-up call at the beginning of seventh grade after an assessment showed she was reading at a first grade level. Now, she's determined to turn her reading scores around and has her sights set on college.

Samantha began her seventh grade school year thinking she didn't need reading support or READ 180. When she learned that her reading scores were on a first grade level, Samantha was motivated to become a better student. After two and a half years in READ 180, Samantha has improved twelve grade levels. "READ 180 has taught me how to read and write so much better than I could before. I have had such a great experience and I will never forget how I was taught to read better."


Elizabeth Kanneh

  • Age: 14 – Grade: 9 – Aurora, IL
  • Elizabeth fled war-torn Liberia, only to find new challenges awaiting her in the classroom. After only seven months with READ 180, Elizabeth is writing and reading fluently and is on her school’s basketball team.

When the war ended in Liberia, Elizabeth left everything that was familiar to move to the United States and begin a new life. As an English Language Learner, Elizabeth struggled with the language, unable to articulate her thoughts or engage with her classmates. She remembers, "I was afraid that I couldn’t learn how to read." After seven months using READ 180, Elizabeth is now reading fluently, participating in class discussions, and interacting with the other students. In addition, Elizabeth not only used the READ 180 program to improve her reading and writing skills, but also as a tool to channel the painful experiences she endured in her homeland. Says Elizabeth, "I am proud of myself that I did learn to read and am still learning. I have self-confidence I didn't have before. It makes me feel better about my life."


Jhumar Parale

  • Age: 15 – Grade: 9 – Ewa Beach, HI
  • Jhumar was a quiet boy who struggled to learn English and fell behind in his schoolwork. Five months later, Jhumar is an honor student and an avid reader.

Born in the Philippines, Jhumar moved to the United States and struggled with the English language. He started the school year disinterested in school and fell behind. After five months in READ 180, Jhumar has jumpstarted his education, improving four grade levels. He has exited READ 180 and returned to his regular English class. "With the help of my hardworking teacher and READ 180, a new world I never imagined opened up to me—the fun world of reading."


The 2010 System 44 All-Star Award winners are:

Mariely Reza-Vazquez

  • Age: 10 – Grade: 5 – Moreno Valley, CA
  • Mariely struggled to learn English, and was in danger of failing fourth grade. After nine months of System 44, she is on the honor roll and is ready for her next big step: middle school.

Growing up in a household where only Spanish is spoken made learning the English language incredibly difficult for Mariely. Before entering System 44, Mariely struggled at school. Now, nine months later, Mariely has increased nearly four grade levels, gained confidence, and made the honor roll in all her subjects. "Last year when I was in fourth grade, I was struggling with reading. I was always getting Ds and Fs. But this year I am getting As and Bs. I feel I am ready for middle school."


Julio Ruiz

  • Age: 14 – Grade: 8 – Midland, TX
  • Julio used to act out to avoid participating in class. Now, Julio's work with System 44 has made him a confident student who is eager to join in class discussions.

Julio has always struggled with reading; he felt insecure about making mistakes and would act out in class when he didn’t know the answers. Julio recalls his frustration, "In sixth grade when they called on me to read I would get in trouble so I could go to the office and not have to read in front of everyone." Today, Julio has made a remarkable transformation-- improving two grade levels in six months with System 44. "I don"t really get scared or nervous in class anymore. I know that I have improved."


Julissa Berrios

  • Age: 12 – Grade: 6 – Hartford, CT
  • Julissa started the school year with little interest in class participation. Today, Julissa leads small group discussions in class and tutors her relatives at home.

As an English Language Learner, Julissa began her sixth grade year reluctant to engage in classroom activities and was easily distracted by her peers. After five months in System 44, Julissa has completely transformed her attitude and now has the motivation and self-confidence to be successful, while setting a positive example for her classmates. System 44 changed the way I feel about reading. I am now reading books independently."


The READ 180 and System 44 All-Stars will each receive a $1,200 check from Scholastic to be used towards furthering their education, and the winning students’ nominating teachers will each receive $1,000 worth of Scholastic READ 180 and System 44 books and materials for their classrooms.

Learn more about READ 180 and System 44.

For more information about Scholastic, visit our mediaroom at http://mediaroom.scholastic.com.



Amanda Hebert

Tyler Reed