South Phoenix Missionary Baptist Church Presents Learn and Earn 25th Annual Awards And Recognition Ceremony

Almost 50 students completed the Learn and Earn program reading 745 books this summer.

Almost 50 students completed the Learn and Earn program reading 745 books this summer.

Story and photos by Jacquelyn Darby

On July 18 South Phoenix Missionary Baptist Church held a special program in recognition of some very special young people. Parents, friends, members, and neighbors proudly watched as the almost 50 students received a personal certificate signifying their hard work and commitment during the summer reading program – Learn and Earn. This year 46 students read 745 books during the summer program. The award ceremony was the culmination of the six-week summer reading program, a time when young people ranging from second through 12th grade participating in the program receive rewards for each of the approved books read during the program.

Learn and Earn is a great time for children to build reading and writing skills and kindle an interest in reading and learning that will hopefully last a lifetime. According to Julia Rodgers, program director, there are certain standards that have to be met. The books selected can’t be made into a movie, and they have to meet the guidelines of the screeners. Further, once the book is read the child has to submit full written summary on each book that includes among other things: an explanation of the context, defining the main characters and what learned and liked best about the book, which had to meet the guidelines of the evaluators.

Top readers were (l to r) Talia Wright, age 17, 52 books read; Tarilynn, age13, 35 books read; Tatiana Jenkins, age 11, 45 books.

Top readers were (l to r) Talia Wright, age 17, 52 books read; Tarilynn, age13, 35 books read; Tatiana Jenkins, age 11, 45 books.

The final program on Monday, evening July 18, began with a beautiful musical prelude by Mrs. Lillian Black, followed by the entrance of the students into the chapel. After joining to sing the national Anthem, there was a prayer of gratitude for the children, Augus Hall offered words in recognition of the occasion, followed by a reading by Sister Betty Nelson. Participating students Tory Johnson and Michael presented reports on some of the books they read during the summer.

The highlight of the program was the awards ceremony when Julia Rodgers and the evaluators including Lillian Black presented each with their certificate in recognition of their participation and the number of the books read during the summer program. Sister Rodgers praised the efforts of the many volunteers, including the screeners, the evaluators, the record keepers and the financial record volunteers. Keith Perkins, of Londen Insurance Group/Lincoln Heritage Life Insurance, the financial sponsor of the Learn and Earn program also spoke in recognition of program and the students.

Rev. Dr. Black concluded in his remarks congratulating the students for their hard work. He paid tribute Sister Rodgers, First Lady Lillian Black and the rest of the volunteers. He also acknowledged Londen Insurance for their commitment over the years.

Learn and Earn started in June 1992 with an idea conceived by the late Mr. London, founder of Londen Insurance and Dr. Bernard Black who collaborated to develop program. Sister Amanda Sullivan served as the first director of the program. The Londen Insurance has faithfully continued its financial support and along with South Phoenix Missionary Baptist for the past 25 years.

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