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Tippens Student Wins National Prize for Reading

Posted On: Thursday, May 2, 2019

connor's honor

Connor reacts with excited surprise when his teacher April Popham shares the news that he has won the national competition for READ 180.

Connor Oakes, a seventh-grade student at LR Tippens Educational Center, has been named one of the 10 national winners of the HMH READ 180 Awards for 2019.  The READ 180 Awards were created 12 years ago by book publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) to honor students who have shown exemplary achievement.

Connor was surprised with the announcement of his national recognition at a reception at the school on Wednesday, May 1, attended by his family, teachers, and CCSD leadership staff.  The prize includes a $500 cash award, a set of books, and a certificate.  Principal Kim Barger added a cake, designed appropriately like stacked books, to enhance the celebration.

Connor’s teacher, April Popham, nominated him for the award because of his progress with reading this year.  Not only did his skills improve, but his attitude toward reading also changed, and she watched him advance more than four grade levels.

“I nominated Connor for the Read 180 student awards this year,” said Ms. Popham. “His Lexile growth went from a beginning reader, below kindergarten level, to a 472, between August and January, so not even a full year.  I am super super proud of him.” 

“I feel happy and excited,” Connor said after the announcement, which clearly took him by surprise.  “It’s never impossible to do something.  As long as you don’t give up, you will be successful.”

Connor is featured on the READ 180 Awards website, along with other national winners and the winners for MATH 180 and System 44, at 

Connor’s video entry for the awards can be viewed on YouTube here.

student with cake

Superintendent of School Dr. Brian V. Hightower takes a photo of Connor with his celebratory cake.

teacher hugs student

Former Tippens Principal Kelly Strickland attended Connor's celebration and gives him a congratulatory hug.

student cuts cake

Tippens Principal Kim Barger assists as Connor serves his special cake.


group photo w connor

From left, Superintendent Dr. Hightower, Connie Manguno from HMH, Connor, April Popham and Kim Barger, principal.


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