For the first time ever, third grade students in South Carolina could be facing retention, and Rock Hill Schools is making sure that will not happen.

Read to Succeed is an act passed by the state legislature in 2015. The intent of the law is to improve student literacy by requiring third grade students to pass the SC READY assessment. The assessment ensures students meet state standards for reading and writing. Students who do not pass face retention. To emphasize the importance of reading on a third grade level, camp director Jaime Cochrane said, “Before third grade, they are learning how to read, but after, they have to read to learn.”

Rock Hill Schools is conducting Read to Succeed summer camp. The state-mandated camp seeks to improve the reading, writing and research skills of students in the third grade. Of the 200 students that attend reading camp, 27 are being considered for retention. All 27 students receive group lessons from the district’s most elite educators. They also break off for dedicated one-on-one time with their instructor to ensure individual needs are met. In the words of classroom teacher Tammy Potter, “Reading is used in everything you do, and being a good reader allows you to be successful.” Since the beginning of summer camp, all students facing possible retention have improved significantly.

Every day, the students participate in an hour of reading, which includes a reader’s theater where they get to read poems and pretend to be characters from plays. Students also focus on writing and research with fun breaks for music and recess.

During camp, each student improves their research skills by taking on a project. One student named Messiah Graham shared her work. “I am writing a chapter book on how to cook eggs,” she said. “I am writing about what you need to cook eggs, the ways you can cook eggs and the stuff you can put them in.” Another student, DaCorian Heath said he was having a great time. “It’s kind of the same as school but it’s more fun here.”

This year, the Read to Succeed camp has invited faculty members from across the district to come read to and encourage the children.

The program runs every Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Finley Road Elementary. The dates are June 11 through July 12, and it is open to all third graders in the district.

The entire Read to Succeed program is funded by the state. For more information on the program, please visit here.