Press Release
October 31, 2005

The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Creates Innovative Ways To Challenge Reading Skills

With the support of a local business, Pajaro Valley Unified School District is partnering with Tandy Beal and Company to reward student achievement in reading in the District’s middle schools by performing two free concerts of song, dance, and circus with world class artists at the Mello Center on Friday, December 2, 2005. Part of the Million Word Campaign, this unique project is an incentive for young readers in the District. Each student that achieves this remarkable milestone will be rewarded with free admission to one of these festive holiday events.

The Million Word Campaign is based on the research that indicates students who read approximately a million words a year will become successful readers as well as expanding their own vocabulary. The Pajaro Valley Unified School District is now in the third year of this annual million-word challenge. During the first year of the challenge approximately 3800 students achieved this high goal. Last year the number rose to 5300. Our goal is to have all students succeed at this challenge. Students on track to completing the million words by the end of May have school-based incentives along the way. This incredible incentive is right on target for an age group that can be hard to motivate to read.

The 1200 middle school students will come to the beautiful Mello theatre in Watsonville to see and hearMixed Nutz! with 60 performers in circus and dance and with the award winning a cappella group, SoVoSó. Live onstage, SoVoSó will make vocal magic as they sing an updated version of Tchaikovsky’s glorious Nutcracker Suite. This multi-cultural and multi-arts concert is guaranteed to help children know that reading well can open their horizons and bring them joy and wonder in unexpected ways.

Bruce Woolpert, CEO of Graniterock, is committed to supporting the School District’s goal of driving academic achievement for all students in the District, especially reading skills in early K–5 education. Woolpert says, “Learning to read is a major turning point in children’s lives. It determines their future opportunities and therefore the quality of life. Democracy and the American Dream only work when all children have what they need from school to be successful—and this is where our District Superintendent, Mary Anne Mays, is focusing. Building strong academic performance must start with the basic skill of reading. Other individuals and businesses in the community are supporting the District’s Million Word Campaign program by donating books for school libraries and helping with reading tutoring.”

Beal first began working with SoVoSó members in Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra. Other special guest artists include gold medalist Wang Hong, aerilast Svetlana Gololobova from Russia, jugglers Rock Lerum, Iman Lizarazu and Tim Furst from the Karamazov Brothers; Folklorico dancers, Los Mejicas; waltz dancers from Santa Cruz and much more.

A press conference including Mary Anne Mays, Tandy Beal, Artemisa Cortez, Bruce W. Woolpert, as well as some of these young student achievers, will be held on Wednesday, November 2, 2005 at E. A. Hall Middle School at 9:00 am The school is located at 201 Brewington Avenue in Watsonville.

For more information, contact:
Mary Anne Mays, Pajaro Valley Unified School District, 831.786.2100
Tandy Beal, Tandy Beal and Company, 831.335.5973
Bruce Woolpert, Graniterock, 831.768.2001