The Independence 500

Start your engines, open your books

INDEPENDENCE -- Kathy Boyarski-Moncsko raced around the gym in her customized Beetle.

Bob Weldon dashed about, followed by a throng of his students, in his orange-and-white Beaver Mobile.

It wasn't actually the Indy 500. It was -- actually -- the Independence 500. Teachers raced around in customized carboard boxes to symbolizes the beginning Independence Elementary's annual read-a-thon.

Students at Independence Elementary have a tough act to follow.

Last year, students read more than a million pages in the school's annual read-a-thon. This year's students have vowed to beat that total.

They started things off Nov. 8 with the traditional read-a-thon assembly, a time for teachers and members of the community to act silly in front of kids.

"The kids went wild seeing their teachers in costume," said Marilyn Morton, one of the Moms-4-Reading who put together the annual read-a-thon.

Moms-4-Reading have been organizing the read-a-thon for 12 years. Three moms -- Morton, Liane Moser and Joy Hoffman -- put together the skits at the beginning and end of the school year and organize activities throughout the year.

As students read more pages, they get "reading bucks" they can use to buy items at the school's read-a-thon store.

The read-a-thon has become such a tradition that it has taken on a life of its own, Morton said.

"Children began asking us at the beginning of school when the program was going to start."

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