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"Friday Night Reads" kicks off with crosstown rivalry game

It is a great story.


A student’s pre-calculus project becomes a grant from the Education Foundation for more books which becomes a student-to-student reading push. A kind of geometric sequencing.


That is where the story starts…with Luke Bland’s pre-calculus class last year. His assignment was to create a real-world application of a geometric sequence (a sequence of numbers multiplied by a fixed number called a common ratio).


“I created a hypothetical situation where Permian football players would share books with 6th grade PE students,” said Luke, a Permian High School senior who wears #42 for the MOJO football team. “The equation demonstrated the ripple effect when the 6th graders started sharing the books with their friends.”


Luke figured he was just completing the math assignment. Actually, he was just beginning a new reading initiative. His mom, ECISD Gifted/Talented Instructional Coach Heather Bland, told ECISD Literacy Director Jaime Miller about the idea. Both agreed it would be a great way to encourage younger students to read. A grant was written, and funded by the Education Foundation of Odessa, to provide new books for the 6th-grade GT/Honors classes. Student-athletes from Permian High School and Odessa High School will create videos to introduce the books the middle schoolers and promote the importance of reading. Digital copies of the books are also available.


“In elementary, I started lots of books but didn’t always finish them,” Luke said when asked he has always like to read. “I learned in 6th grade that I had been reading the wrong books for years. I read “Gifted Hands” by Ben Carson and realized I like biographies. I love history and reading about historical figures.”


“Friday Night Reads”, as the initiative is called, will get its first wide exposure during the crosstown rivalry football game on Friday night when the intro videos play on the replay screen at Ratliff Stadium. Luke will introduce “All Thirteen, The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Soccer Team” by Christina Soontornvat, and OHS’s Adriel Rivas is reading “Hail Mary” by Drew Pearson.


The goal is to create a culture of literacy on campuses and start building the Advanced Placement pipeline in middle school.


“These books will help students read more which will help them in their high school classes and on tests like the SAT,” said Luke. “I think it is cool that something I was just doing for a grade is going to end up helping our community. ‘