Franklin Countys First News

Mallett School celebrates 20th year of Iditaread

Students at W.G. Mallett School watch the Turners' dogsled team.

FARMINGTON - It’s a lesson about working together and perseverance as students at W.G. Mallett School spent the month of March Reading their way to Nome, competing in the annual Iditaread. The Iditaread is in its 20th year at Mallett school, originating when now-retired librarian Betsy Turcotte heard of a school in Alaska using a reading incentive program to follow along with the annual Iditarod race.

The Iditaread has continually grown in popularity within the school community and brings much excitement and anticipation each year, incentivizing students to read. This year has been no different at Mallett School with students reading a truly incredible amount. Grades one and two read just over 43,325 minutes. Kindergarten, who tracked the number of books read, read a total of 2,964 books.

Students were rewarded for this hard work with a visit from local dog-sled racers Mark and Jake Turner. Mr. Turner gave students an overview of some of the equipment needed to become a dog-sled racer. Students were especially excited to see and interact with some of the dogs on his team. Jake Turner told students that the Iditarod sparked his interest at an early age which ​encouraged​ him to read all the Iditarod books he could get his hands on. Jake's father, Mark, inspired by his son's enthusiasm for the sport invested in their own dog sled team and has been “mushing” ever since. Jake now races his team in sprint races, which are shorter and faster than the distance races like the Iditarod. During a sprint race, dogs may average a speed of 10-14 miles per hour.

Throughout the nearly three week iditaread race, students also learned about the 1925 “serum run” when a tag team of mushers raced a life-saving serum for diphtheria from Anchorage to Nome, saving the lives of sick children there. At that time the dog sled teams were the most reliable way to get the antitoxin from Nome to Anchorage, nearly 1,000 miles away. Years later, in 1974, the first Iditarod race was held in commemoration of the heroic dog-sled teams and mushers of that 1925 expedition.

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6 Responses »

  1. This is a terrific program for the Mallet community! Students,parents, teachers and staff all engaged in celebrating reading is exciting. I wonder how many books and minutes have been read over 20 years?

  2. Fantastic program. Really encourages the children to read. Might actually get some parents away from the electronics screens.

  3. There is no better gift to give to children than the joy of reading. None. Good job folks!!!! This changes lives!

  4. A standing ovation for the Turner Team in bringing this excitement to school children and to the teachers who attempt to plant the seeds for the love of reading through happy dogs. A winning combination!!!

  5. Well said,Mary.

  6. Wow! 20 years ~ Betsy, you must feel pretty proud for introducing the program to Mallett. Great Team there - from principal to preschool. Reading books: makes ya feel good...!