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District 833 launches summer-reading photo contest

Cottage Grove Elementary student Luke Bartle shared a photo of himself reading at Mount Rushmore. (Submitted photo)

Teachers and district staff face the same challenge every summer – how to keep students engaged during summer vacation.

“Our goal is that learning never stops,” said Madeleine Saxler, District 833 communications specialist.

Getting students to take time out of their videos games or outdoor activities to pick up a book or review a lesson can prove difficult, but what if you make it a contest and throw in a prize?

That’s exactly what District 833 has done with a new summer contest that asks students to take a photo of themselves reading during the summer.

“Our district mission is to ignite a passion for life-long learning,” Saxler said, “and reading is at the core of that.”

For the “Where is 833 Reading This Summer?” contest, current District 833 students, and staff, are asked to take a photo of themselves reading this summer and then they should submit the photo and a brief caption along with their name, school and where the photo was taken to the district at

All photos received between June 6 and Aug. 25 will be posted to the district’s Facebook page,

New photos will be posted online every Friday.

The photos with the most likes by Sept. 1 will win a Barnes and Noble gift certificate donated by district staff.

Saxler came up with the idea for the photo contest during a brainstorming session with District 833 staff over ways to keep students engaged in learning during the summer.

“We were just basically trying to think of a fun way to keep our families engaged during the summer and we know how popular Facebook is,” she said, “so, we decided to combine the two.”

District 833 had already received submissions that had students reading at home, camping and even at Mount Rushmore.

“Another thing that this contest does is reinforce for our students that reading is a skill that you use everywhere in many different ways,” Saxler said. “Reading is one of the most powerful tools that we have.”

Saxler said District 833 chose Facebook rather than other photo sharing applications like Instagram or Imgur because it provided the easiest way to manage the votes through the likes.

Saxler said she could see the district doing something similar again next year because it’s a fun way to keep students reading.

“People love to share and people love to see what other people are up to,” she said. “It’s a really fun way for people to stay connected.

“Reading sparks discovery and knowledge and we hope our students see that in action this summer.”

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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