• Clara Love, Hatfield And Justin Elementary School Students Combine To Read 283,208 Books For The School Year
  • Clara Love, Justin Tie For The “Speeding To Read” School Championship

FORT WORTH, Texas (April 11, 2013) – Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon is accustomed to receiving trophies for his accomplishments, but Thursday he was the one doling out the hardware at Texas Motor Speedway much to the delight of nearly 1,500 students from Clara Love, Hatfield and Justin elementary schools.

Gordon was the special guest of Texas Motor Speedway’s “Speeding To Read” program on the speedway’s frontstretch, where the top individual, classroom and school champions were rewarded for their reading prowess during the school year. The three Northwest ISD schools combined to read 283,208 books for the school year, and Clara Love and Justin were crowned co-school champions as they tied for having a robust 97 percent of their students meeting or exceeding their reading goals. Hatfield, which led the school competition for two of the four quarters, finished third at an impressive 91 percent.

The two schools earned a share of the giant “Speeding To Read” champion’s trophy and pizza parties for the entire student bodies and faculty compliments of Domino’s.

American Muscle

“It was just a tremendous day all around to see the type of enthusiasm and energy that the principals and teachers have created with the students to read more frequently,” Texas Motor Speedway Vice President of Media Relations Mike Zizzo said. “This program could not be possible without the support of NASCAR superstars like Jeff, Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick who have visited the students, and all the great sponsors that have helped this ‘Speeding To Read’ program prosper. On behalf of Texas Motor Speedway, it is a very satisfying but humbling feeling to be able to make an impact on children’s education in our community.”

Joining Gordon for the special day was the The Cat in the Hat mascot of Dr. Seuss fame. The pairing was a result of the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation collaborating with Dr. Seuss Enterprises on the “Hats Off To Hope” program, which is a year-long campaign to support and celebrate children with cancer.

“This just happened to work out this way for what Texas Motor Speedway is doing, and it’s awesome,” Gordon said. “I’ve never been a part of this before, but with our new partnership with Cat in the Hat and Dr. Seuss Enterprises it’s something that we’ve really gotten involved with this year because of how they affect children and played such an important role in our lives as kids growing up.

“It has given us a great opportunity to bring more awareness to pediatric cancer and help funding that. It just so happens that these types of opportunities are coming up more and more because of our relationship with Dr. Seuss.”

Gordon has put up Hall-of-Fame-caliber numbers over his career, but he was blown away by the amount of books read by the students and the percentage that met or exceeded their reading goals.

“I don’t think I’ve read that many books or will in my lifetime,” Gordon said. “That’s impressive. That’s very impressive.”

In conjunction with the campaign, Gordon and The Cat in the Hat made a special presentation to Hatfield Elementary kindergarten student Chloe Brown. Brown, one of the leading K-2 division readers in the program, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 15 months old and has endured 164 rounds of chemotherapy, 59 rounds of radiation and 17 surgeries. This spring, she celebrated 1½ years of remission.

Gordon, along with The Cat in the Hat, presented her with a collection of six Dr. Seuss books and then they read several pages from the Dr. Seuss classic, “Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?” to the student body.

“The reason why we do the work that we do at our foundation is to find cures and find better treatments,” Gordon said. “And Chloe is the reason why we do that, because of her success.”

Hatfield kindergarten student Katie Gilbert was crowned the individual reading champion in the K-2 Division with 2,890 books read. Second grader Ethan Hooley was the top reader at Clara Love with 1,606 books read and kindergarten student Jacob Hall was tops at Justin with 1,496 books read.

Justin fourth-grader Cooper Donoho was crowned the 3-5 Division champ with 189 books read. Fifth-grader Justin Barnes led Clara Love with 175 books read while fourth-grader Kendrick Sanders paced Hatfield with 89 books read.

Gilbert and Donoho received a “Speeding To Read” championship trophy, four tickets to Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Dr. Seuss book collection courtesy of Random House Children’s Books, 10 books for their home library from “Score-A-Goal in the Classroom,” signed hat from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick and a gift bag from Texas Motor Speedway.

The top individuals from the other two schools received a trophy, two tickets to the race, “Score-A-Goal in the Classroom” books and gift bag as well.

Ms. Green’s second-grade class at Clara Love won the K-2 Division classroom championship with 17,086 books read. The kindergarten classes of Ms. Logan and Ms. Hunter led Justin (16,010) and Hatfield (12,223), respectively.

Ms. Bach’s fourth-grade class at Hatfield was the 3-5 Division champions with 1,137 books read. Ms. Contreras’ fifth-grade class led Clara Love with 1,092 books and Ms. Twist’s fourth-grade class paced Justin with 956 books read.

The winning classrooms received a championship trophy, four tickets to Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, books for their home library from “Score-A-Goal in the Classroom” and TMS gift bags. The winning teachers received a complimentary massage and facial from The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway. The other top classrooms received trophies, two tickets to the race and books from “Score-A-Goal in the Classroom.”

In addition to sharing the school championship trophy and earning a Domino’s pizza party at their schools, Clara Love Principal Julie Nerby and Justin Principal Lisa Ransleben received a dinner for two at The Speedway Club for their efforts.

All three schools, however, were rewarded for their overall success in the “Speeding To Read” program and their respective libraries will be the beneficiaries. As co-champions, Justin and Clara Love will have “Score-A-Goal in the Classroom” donate 750 books to each of their libraries. Hatfield will earn 250 books from the organization.

Random House Children’s Books also supported the libraries at Clara Love, Hatfield and Justin by donating a 43-book Dr. Seuss collection series to each as well as 30 copies of the classic “The Cat in the Hat” to aid in classroom book reading.

“Clara Love is thrilled to share the honors with Justin Elementary,” Nerby said. “There are no losers in the Texas 500. The ‘Speeding to Read’ competition is all about developing life-long readers and focusing on good sportsmanship. We will need to keep an eye on Hatfield Elementary next year because they will want to see Clara Love and Justin in their rear-view mirror!  Thanks again to Texas Motor Speedway and all of the sponsors who help make this event fun and exciting for our students.”

“Pulling ahead to second place at Turn 3 really boosted the students at Justin Elementary to read even more,” Ransleben said. “Students, teachers, and parents worked together in setting small goals to pace ourselves for the finish line. We are very proud that 97 percent of our students were successful in meeting the reading goal.  Congratulations to the hard-working students at Clara Love Elementary for finishing a tight race with us to first place.”

About Texas Motor Speedway’s “Speeding To Read” Program: The mission of Texas Motor Speedway’s “Speeding To Read” program is to utilize motorsports, its drivers and our races to incentivize elementary school children to read more frequently and enrich their educational experience. “Speeding To Read” is an incentive-based, NASCAR-themed reading program created by Texas Motor Speedway to encourage elementary school students to read more frequently during the school year. Texas Motor Speedway selected Clara Love Elementary School in nearby Justin, Texas, to partner with on this pilot program that debuted at the outset of the 2011-2012 school year. The student body was split into two divisions – kindergarten through second grade and third through fifth grade – with the classrooms competing against each other to read the most books and earn the title of “Speeding To Read”champions. TMS crowned the leaders in the two divisions – as well as individual leaders – quarterly and provided each leading classroom with a trophy and a gift bag for each of the students.

The quarters are based off key dates in the NASCAR schedule and represent the four turns of a race track. Turn 1 is the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup in mid-September; Turn 2 is TMS’ AAA Texas 500 NASCAR race week in November; Turn 3 is the start of the new season with SpeedWeeks and the Daytona 500 in February; and Turn 4 is TMS’ NRA 500 NASCAR race week in April.

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