From left: Missouri Avenue Elementary Accelerated Readers Priscila Humaran, Kyra Cloud, Christian Carillo, Izaiah Gonzales and Tegan Goodheart admire their new bikes, given to them Thursday by Johnathon Parnell who tuned them up as his Eagle Scout project. (Amy Vogelsang Photo)
Kids smiled and showed pure excitement as they realized they had won bikes simply by reading. For the end of the year awards ceremony at Missouri Avenue Elementary, six students with high scores in the Accelerated Reading Program were awarded new bikes Thursday that had been tuned up by Johnathon Parnell as his Eagle Scout project.
Parnell, 13, has been in Boy Scouts for three and a half years, and after receiving the 11 required Eagle Scout badges, he is about to complete the rank. For his project, he decided to get bikes and then do a clinic about tuning them up, an idea inspired largely after he received his Cycling Merit Badge.
As a second-generation Eagle Scout (Parnell’s father and older brother are also Eagle Scouts), Parnell was well prepared for the tasks at hand. He is one of 30 scouts in Troop 149, Roswell’s largest troop, and has seen plenty of others go through their projects. His was unique to one of his interests, though.
“(My favorite part is) working on the chain,” Parnell said. “That’s where you get your hands all greasy and dirty, so that’s a lot of fun.”
They stayed on a budget of about $600, a budget provided by Roswell Masonic Lodge No. 18 and New Mexico Masonic Charities, and then with the help of Walmart were able to secure reasonably priced bikes that they then proceeded to work on.
All the work was for students at Missouri Avenue Elementary, so although Parnell said it was hard to say goodbye to such awesome bikes, the joy and excitement on the kids’ faces made it well worth his efforts.
Tegan Goodheart, the kindergarten AR winner, was especially excited about his bike.
“I like my bike the mostest,” Goodheart said. “It’s like a motorcycle and goes ‘vroom vroom.’” His animated hands revved an invisible throttle as he made the proper sound effects. His new bike is also his favorite color: green, “like my shoes.”
First-grade winner Izaiah Gonzales also got a bike in his favorite color, red. The other winners were Christian Carrillo in second grade, Kyra Cloud in third grade, Jazmin Mize in fourth grade, and the fifth-grade winner was Priscila Humaran.
“I’m happy to reward these kids,” said reading teacher Rose Herrera. “They deserve to be rewarded. Good students are often overlooked.”
Herrera also pointed out the importance of parents in the success of these children meeting their reading goals since mom and dad initiate most of the reading at home.
“All the winners have a strong family support system,” Herrera said.
The teachers’ hope was that kids will be motivated to read, especially after seeing the bikes given out as prizes, and many students looked ready to head to the library and start their summer reading right then and there.
Parnell described his endeavor as “a fun, easy project for the community,” and he made the day of some little kids.