H.D. Hilley Elementary is tops in the nation when it comes to reading success. The Socorro Independent School District school was named No. 1 in Texas and the nation in the 2018 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.
Hilley students logged in 4.2 million reading minutes, a number no other U.S school could touch.
The Socorro Independent School District campus of about 600 students celebrated with a pep rally that included a Scholastic representative, the Peter Piper Pizza mascot Rocky, the Mustang cheerleaders, and the Socorro High School cheerleaders and drumline.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment,” said Lisa Hernandez, Scholastic’s local field representative. “What’s amazing is the students don’t have access to a public library in their community. It is certainly unusual. Everyone put forth a huge collaborative effort. The principal, librarian, teachers and parents made sure students were reading in the classroom and at home. It is very motivating.”
Students relied on the school library and their Little Free Library, a small wooden cabinet located in the cafeteria stocked with donated books they can borrow and return.
“We didn’t expect to be ranked No. 1 nationally,” said Rosalyn Morales, librarian at the elementary school. “But we were all unified in making sure students were reading. There is no way we could have done this without all our teachers and parents support.”
Hilley’s top status was precarious throughout the summer. It competed with an El Paso middle school and an elementary in Fremont, Calif., Hernandez said.
“It went back and forth,” she said. “It was so close, but then Hilley blew by everyone.”
Last year, Hilley was No. 7 in the nation and first in Texas along with Horizon Heights Elementary, who was No. 8 in the U.S. Other Team SISD schools that have ranked in the top 10 for reading minutes nationally are Mission Ridge Elementary, Hurshel Antwine Elementary and Dr. Sue Shook Elementary.
“Socorro ISD is definitely leading the pack when it comes to reading,” Hernandez said. “Every year, they have one or two in the top 10. Now, other districts in the area are following them. It is such a good thing to promote reading during the summer and intersession. Students lose a lot when they don’t keep up with their reading.”
Hilley Principal Fernie Miranda was so proud of his students. During the pep rally, he showed up in a Superman costume. He wanted to show students that all Mustangs can be heroes, especially when they read.
“Reading is huge,” Miranda said. “It is everything that we do in life. It not only will carry them through school, but also it is going to set that foundation for whatever they want to become. Just so they can be at their optimal, maximum potential. … It all begins with the love of reading.”
Jonathan Kwan, a fifth grader from Hilley, spent the summer perusing chapter books and reading for comprehension. He loves autobiographies.
“I am an avid reader because my parents and teachers encourage me,” Kwan said. “Reading helps with my vocabulary, grammar and writing. It makes me more sophisticated. I am glad we won. It feels like we are the best in reading.”