Masons provide bikes galore for Parkrose summer readers

Read this, and you’ll discover why a fraternal organization keeps supporting education in the northern portion of outer East Portland …

Parkrose Summer Reading Program participants take a look at the bicycles about to be given away by members of the Parkrose and Eastgate Masonic Lodges.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Elementary and middle school students in the Parkrose School District were given a good reason to read books during their summer vacation, for the fourth year in a row. It’s all thanks to the Parkrose Masonic Lodge and Eastgate Masonic Lodge, co-located on NE 102nd Avenue near NE Sandy Boulevard.

“This year, the participation of the schools has been tremendous,” smiled Christos Efthimiadis, Past Master of Parkrose Masonic Lodge #172, at the October 6 event. “We had about 65 applicants who qualified to win a bike this year; many of them are here tonight.”

In all, they, and the members of the Eastgate Masonic Lodge, provided a total of ten brand new bicycles. “We’ll have a drawing among all of the qualifying students at each of the schools who are here tonight.”

Angela King, Reading Specialist at Sacramento Elementary School, Principal Michael Lopes of Prescott Elementary, and Principal Cindy Bartman of Shaver Elementary say they’re thrilled with the results of the summer reading program.

Before the program, representatives of three Parkrose School District elementary schools talked about the Mason’s summer reading program.

“It’s a great opportunity to encourage kids to focus on reading in the summer,” Principal Michael Lopes of Prescott Elementary said. “This way, when they come back in the fall, they’ve both increased their reading skills, and also have the opportunity to win a bike. It’s a great incentive for summer reading.”

Principal Cindy Bartman of Shaver Elementary noted that about 50 of their kids read books, and recorded the books they read. “I think it’s wonderful that the Parkrose Masons reach out to the community, and give these children an opportunity to earn something special that they might not otherwise be able to get on their own.”

Sacramento Elementary School’s reading specialist, Angela King, added, “The Masons brought over a bike at the end of last school year, and we had it in a display case. The kids could see it, ‘ooo and ahhhh’ over it, and it really did help motivate them.”

That’s important, King added, because the more kids read, the better they develop a skill that will serve them for a lifetime. “And, more than half the kids who submitted applications this year were our ‘Title One’ kids – our ‘struggling readers’. It’s exciting to see these students, like one of our non-English speaking girls who are just learning English, participate in the program.”

A student draws names of bicycle winners from a hat held by Christos Efthimiadis, Past Master of Parkrose Masonic Lodge.

Master explains reason for Masons’ participation
As the program began, Dale Imbleau, Past Master of the Eastgate Masons, provided context to the reading-for-bikes program. “Masons are a philanthropic organization. We are a group of men who are striving to make themselves better. Part of ‘being better’ is helping leave the world a little better than we found it.”

Imbleau said the Masons chose to support reading because “A person who can read has a tendency to do better in life. The person who can read can overcome almost any obstacle, because they can learn about what they need to know to take the next step forward. In that sense, we figure the best way to help out is to give a little incentive, give a little push, to help our young people learn to read and become better readers.”

Then, school by school, the qualifying students at the ceremony were called to the front, and participated in the bicycle drawing.

Principal Cindy Bartman of Shaver Elementary (far left) stands with her students, and with the leaders of the two Parkrose Masonic Lodges.

With the Masons stand Principal Michael Lopes of Prescott Elementary and his students.

Angela King, a reading specialist at Sacramento Elementary School (on the right), with the Masons congratulates these students.

Five of the ten bikes were taken home by these students:

  • Gianella Velasquez Pacheco, Shaver Elementary
  • Antone Lopez , and Jada Terry, Prescott Elementary
  • Bryan Pham, Sacramento Elementary
  • Julia Schmidt, Parkrose Middle School

The remainder of the bicycles were distributed later, at special drawings held at each of the participating schools, we were told.

Bryan Pham of Sacramento Elementary gets a new helmet, to go along with his new bike, from Parkrose Masonic Lodge’s Worshipful Master Michael Cassidy.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, current Eastgate Masonic Lodge Worshipful Master, Jacob Imbleau, presents the organization’s Hiram Award to his father, Dale Imbleau. This award is only presented to a Master Mason who has served the Lodge and the Masonic Fraternity with devotion “over and above the ordinary”.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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