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School celebrates reading with assembly, bike giveaway

ST. IGNATIUS — Four lucky St. Ignatius Elementary students took brand new bicycles home from school Friday. Michael Kibler, Azia LaFrombois, Alexis LaChance and Danny Helmer each won a coveted drawing for a new bike through the Books for Bikes program.

Every time a student reads a book, he can enter the drawing — the more books read, the more chances to win. 

“It’s very motivating,” Title I instructor Susan Batiuchok said. “Even today, kids were reading their hearts out (for another chance to win).”

The Montana Masonic Foundation donated two bikes, while the Indian Education Committee added two more. Wal-Mart co-sponsored the giveaways. Masons Doug Olson and Mike McCloud were on hand to present the bicycles, which came complete with new helmets, at an elementary school assembly Friday afternoon. Following the prize drawings, students sang along with the Ukulele Youths, a group of third through seventh-graders that have been learning to play the ukulele in an after-school program. Matthew Lyon, who works as a computer technician at the school and is a lifelong musician, led the group in several renditions of favorite old tunes including “You Are My Sunshine” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

“This was their first performance,” Batiuchok noted.

Lyon said the group is open to elementary students in third grade and up, and encouraged interested students to join the group in the fall.

“It’s been pretty fun,” Lyon said. “Hopefully we’ll have more players next year.”

Elementary Principal Tammy Demien added some healthy competition to the event, pitting Loretta Adams’ and Lloyd Phillips’ fifth-grade classes against each other in a series of fun challenges. Demien told the students that she and high school Principal Jason Sargeant wanted to test the fifth-graders’ problem solving skills as they prepare to head into sixth grade. 

For the first challenge, Demien placed a mat on the gym floor and gave the kids three minutes to fit as many people on the mat as possible without anyone touching the gym floor. After a wild scramble, a point was awarded to Adams’ class.

Next up, students were given kazoos and whistles and a secret song to play as two Kindergarten classes listened closely, trying to guess the song being played. The fifth-graders buzzed and hummed away, but were unsuccessful in soliciting the correct answers from the Kindergartners.

For the final competition, both fifth-grade classes were challenged to move everyone in their group across the gym, one person at a time, using two small scooters. Amid rowdy cheering and laughter, Mrs. Adams’ class triumphed, which meant her classroom will be home to the Mission Bulldog spirit statue until he’s claimed in another challenge.

A lively performance by the Mission Drill Team, a group of fourth and fifth-grade girls, wrapped up the assembly. The drill team is an after-school group sponsored by elementary secretary Connie Trudeau and  Loretta Adams.

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