Perseverance and Reading Leads Third Graders to the Hall of Champions


The Indianapolis Public Schools district all came together in order to compete for the chance to be honored in the Hall of Champions. The NCAA put the event together to tie in with March Madness, but instead of students competing on the court, they competed in the classroom to read the most minutes. The perseverance of William McKinley 39’s third-grade class to read the most minutes led to an afternoon filled with food, fun, and of course, books.

The NCAA hosted the event last Friday morning as the children of William McKinley 39 piled into the Hall of Champions. Along with the NCAA representatives, the children were greeted by the mascots of IUPUI, Butler, and Indy Eleven with a high five line.

Before the students of William McKinley were honored in the Hall of Champions, they could watch videos such as “One Shining Moment,” which encourage children to put reading and education first above all things, including athletics. The campuses of University of Indianapolis, Butler, and IUPUI all came together to help encourage the students to read as much as they could.

Victor Hill, the associate director of NCAA, was thoroughly impressed with the work that went on into putting this event on.

“The three universities hosted pep rallies for our partnering school districts (IPS, Pike, Lawrence and Warren).  All the third graders from each district attended the pep rallies on campus.  Each university’s student-athletes participated in their own unique way with the children.”

William McKinley 39 especially stood out because not only were they the winners of the reading competition, but their true passion for reading was evident. With a total of 2,500 plus hours of reading, divided by 21 students in the eight-week competition, it totaled out to at least two hours of reading per student every day.

Olivia Justus, the teacher of the winning class, gushed about her students’ love of reading being the key reason to their success.

“Throughout this whole reading competition, they have just fallen in love with reading more and more. There was a lot of parent involvement to keep them motivated as well. We are always reading. If there is any down time, they have a book in their hands.”

The students not only got to celebrate their passion for reading, but they also received free books from Scholastic Education in order to encourage them to read and to become leaders through reading. They also received free lunch and playtime in the Hall of Champions.

The goal of this event is to encourage young students to put their schooling first in all aspects. Justus was sure to mention how her students also sacrificed their video games and playtime in order to accomplish their goals.

“I walked into this school year thinking that my students can achieve the impossible,” Justus said. “We have just built this culture in our room where we can do whatever we put our minds to and not give up.”