Selma Chief of Police William Riley talks to Clark Elementary School Students during a pizza party Friday provided by the police department’s Police Encouraging Academics, Reading and Learning program.--Josh Bergeron
Selma Chief of Police William Riley talks to Clark Elementary School Students during a pizza party Friday provided by the police department’s Police Encouraging Academics, Reading and Learning program.-- Josh Bergeron

Police help increase reading

Published 12:57am Saturday, March 1, 2014

Police officers invaded Clark Elementary School Friday afternoon and brought pizza.

The Selma Police Department kicked off its Police Encouraging Academics, Reading and Learning program by rewarding Clark students with a pizza party for their reading prowess. Tamera Carter’s fifth grade class won the party after greatly increasing test scores from August and December.

Selma Chief of Police William Riley said the program is aimed at familiarizing students with the police department and encouraging students to read more often.

“You cannot do anything without reading comprehension,” Riley said. “As police officers we see the end result of learning. If students perform better in school they are less likely to engage in criminal activity.”

Clark Elementary is serving as a pilot program for the police department’s effort. Once class per month at Clark will continue to receive a pizza party for reading the greatest amount of books. Riley said the P.E.A.R.L. program might expand to other schools as the police department adds additional officers. The program will be paid for through donations received by the police department and by selling confiscated or turned-in guns for scrap metal, Riley said.

“We know once police engage in the community in a positive sense then residents are more likely to cooperate and help us report criminal activity,” he said.

After the party, Clark Elementary principal Aubrey Larkin said he was proud of the class for the large improvement in test scores and hopes students will continue to increase their reading habits.

“[Elementary schools] are the foundation of learning,” Larkin said. “By reading and focusing on education now, our students are more likely to do well when they move on to middle school and high school.”

The students weren’t the only ones rewarded for reading efforts. Carter also received tickets to see Jase Robertson at a praise and worship service on Sunday at Memorial Stadium.

“I just made sure to encourage them to read,” Carter said. “Our saying is: ‘the more you read the more you know and the more you know the more you grow.’”

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