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NORMAL — Glenn Elementary School students placed first in the state for the most minutes read during the 2014 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

Principal Julia Schoonover received a letter from Gov. Pat Quinn notifying the school of its first-place finish.

"It makes me proud to congratulate all of the students in grades k-5 on reading 251,971 minutes this summer," Quinn wrote. "This is truly an amazing accomplishment."

When Schoonover announced the news over the school's intercom system, "I could hear them all cheering in their classrooms," she said. "We're not a big school so it was amazing that they were able to accomplish this."

The McLean County Unit 5 school has about 265 students, district spokesman Dayna Brown said.

A celebration Oct. 3 is being planned by school staff and the Glenn Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization, with community members reading to the students.

"It helps for them to have someone outside of the school acknowledge them for their achievement," Schoonover said. "We're extremely proud of the students. As a staff we encourage them to read all of the time and many of them do."

The challenge, sponsored by Scholastic Corp., ran from May 5 through Sept. 5, with students logging onto the company's Internet website to record their reading minutes.

The school also sponsored three sessions during the summer for students to check out new books to read or use school computers if they didn't have access to the Internet or forgot their user names and passwords.

Schoonover kept the students and their families informed over the summer of the school's reading progress, "and basically encouraged them to keep on reading," she said.

"This was a worldwide challenge and the Scholastic Corp. had a goal of meeting or exceeding the world record. So (the students) knew the minutes that they were reading over the summer were not only helping our school meet a goal, but they also were trying to break a world record."

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