CRESTVIEW — Kelli Correa's fifth-grade reading class at Antioch Elementary School received a surprise on Monday afternoon when Pizza Hut representatives presented a pizza party and other prizes.
The students earned the party after ranking 70th of Book It’s "Top 100 Reading Classrooms" in the country.
The restaurant’s incentive-based Book It program has promoted reading since 1985. Students now use an online minutes tracker to log the number of minutes each student reads over six months.
More than 14 million children and 680,000 classrooms across the country participated in this year’s program. Correa’s Cougars logged 144,520 minutes of reading. The school itself logged more than 325,000 minutes.
This purportedly was a first for Okaloosa County.
"Pizza Hut has had restaurants here for the past 25 years, and this was the first time they ever had a top 100 winner," representative Doug Dildy said.
Students received free pizza and cake for their accomplishment, and each received a gift bag that included a certificate, coupons and other prizes.
Correa earned a framed certificate, a gift card and an award.
"It feels awesome; I'm so excited for the kids," said Correa, who is on maternity leave but stopped in for the announcement. "I didn't realize it was such a big achievement until I came here today."
Correa credited her students’ efforts.
"(It was) just me motivating the kids and the kids doing their part at home and coming back with their minutes for us to log in," she said.
Brooklyn Peterson, 11, said she couldn't count all the books she read.
"There is too many to count," she said, adding she reads about four hours after school.
"They are just reading all of the time," Principal Wanda Avery said. "I am very proud of them for reading because I am an avid reader, and … one thing I stress to all of our students is to read, read, read."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.