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Freemasons award four bikes to entice reading at Madawaska Elementary School

MADAWASKA, Maine — The Freemasons presented four students with bikes on Friday at Madawaska Elementary School as part of a Bikes for Books reading program.

For every book the fourth-graders read, they had one chance entered into a drawing for a new bike. The more books the students read, the more chances they had to win a bike.  

“Just remember, even if you don’t win [a bike], you are still a winner,” said Andrew Nolan, a member of the Freemasons.

Bike winners Dianiliz Conde-Silva, from left, Antonio Blanchette, Rhys Grivois, and Garnet Gillette take an oath, initiated by Andrew Nolan, to wear a helmet while riding.
(Morgan Mitchell)

Four names were drawn with two boys and two girls winning bikes for reading books in the month of May. The Freemasons read the names out as the students pounded their fists and hands on the table in a drumroll fashion.

Dianiliz Conde-Silva, Antonio Blanchette, Rhys Grivois, and Garnet Gillette were the lucky winners. Along with the bikes, the Freemasons also presented each of the winners with a helmet as each student took an oath to wear the helmet while riding.

“I never thought I’d win this,” Grivois said after the big reveal. He said most of the books he read for the contest were part of the “Boxcar Children” series. “My mom bought me the first one and read it to me.”

Conde-Silva said she read over 10 books during the month of May with her favorite being “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Blanchette also read about 3 books and was too involved admiring his new bike to comment.

According to Gillette, she read four or five books including “Still More Night Frights.”

Freemason Andrew Nolan discusses the importance of reading with students at Madawaska Elementary School on June 1 before calling on the winners of the new bikes.
(Morgan Mitchell)

“I like scary books,” she said. For Gillette, winning the bike could not have come at a better time.

“I felt really happy because I needed a new bike,” Gillette said.

The program has been sponsored by the Freemasons for over 20 years. According to their website, the three main reasons for promoting the programs are to increase reading and comprehension, recognize positive student achievements, and provide an attainable goal “with life enhancing results.”

Summarizing the effort, Nolan said, “My mom always said,’The crime isn’t not being able to read, the crime is being able to read but not doing so.’”

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