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Avid reader Ben Watson closes book on principals challenge
Ben Watson 8
Cunningham Elementary fifth grader Ben Watson shows off just a few of the books he read to earn 500 Accelerated Reader (AR) points. - photo by ALYSSON AREDAS / The Journal

While Cunningham Elementary School students were heading to the multipurpose room for lunch on Monday afternoon, fifth grader Ben Watson was en route to his favorite restaurant, Panera Bread, with Principal Tami Truax.

The lunch came as a well-deserved prize to the fifth grade book fanatic, who was challenged by Truax earlier this year to earn 500 Accelerated Reader (AR) points.

Already at an impressive 350 points when Truax initially made the decision to challenge him, Watson surpassed her goal and then some in just two months.

“In over 30 years of working with the District, I have never had someone achieve so many points,” said Truax. “Ben is at least 200 points higher than the next highest reader here.

“He’s a reader that we have not seen before at the elementary level,” continued Truax.

As a motivational program, AR is used as a tool to foster a love of reading amongst students, while also improving vocabulary and comprehension through a variety of quizzes.

It is easy to say that the program did just that for Watson, who quickly exceeded the highest award given in the program at 300 points. At that time, Cunningham staff still made sure to reward the avid reader by having a special certificate made just for him.

When asked what he liked about reading so much, Watson replied that he likes where each story takes him, especially his favorite read: the Harry Potter series.

“It’s my favorite because I like the storyline and it’s so descriptive that the pictures pop up in my head,” said Watson. “It feels like I’m there with them.”

While Watson was both nervous and excited to be treated to lunch by Truax, likening it to “lunch with the president,” his mother Angela Watson was beaming with pride—but she was not surprised that her son had earned this achievement at all.

“When he first was challenged by Principal Truax, he came home and said, ‘I know I can do it’,” said Angela Watson. “We’ve always known he was gifted, but this just solidifies what we had known all along.”

Although Ben Watson has already turned heads this year for his reading success, he plans on going even further next year.

“I want to at least get 525 AR points,” Watson said.