School Books Mystery Trip to Reward Summer Readers

Article excerpt

Byline: Carolyn C. Armistead Daily Herald Correspondent

On the morning of 1996's mystery trip, children at Winfield Elementary School and their parents had just one clue: bring a swimsuit and a towel.

"Well, I think we're going to go swimming," said fifth-grader Jennifer Tan, 11.

Chris Herzberger, 10, had his theory. "Maybe we're going to the YMCA."

This was the 12th year of the Summer Search Mystery Trip at Winfield Elementary. The award is part of an annual reading-incentive program started - and patented - by two of the school's retired teachers.

To qualify for the trip and other awards, students entering first through fifth grades had to read at least 12 books from a bibliography of 177 books during the summer. Then, they answered questions about the books they read.

"Seven children read them all," said Rhonda Williams, a member of the Winfield Parents Club, an organizer of this year's trip

One of those children was her Williams', Kelly, 10.

"I read the whole summer," Kelly said, estimating she read about five books a day to meet her goal of reading all the books on the list.

There were 134 students who qualified for the trip, a number Rhonda Williams said is "the most ever."

The growing popularity of the program might have something to do with the destinations of past trips. In recent years, trips included visits to the Discovery Zone and Blackberry Farm, a train ride to take nature walks in Geneva and an overnight slumber party in the school's library.

Organizing the trip took a great deal of planning and secrecy. But, even so, there was a mad scramble to make new arrangements on the day before the trip. …