APPLE Partnership honors Henderson’s top readers

At an end-of-the-year celebration, the city of Henderson recognized students who accumulated reading minutes through its APPLE Partnership, which promotes literacy among students.

This year, the city recognized 14-year-old Amber Sterbentz, a blind student who attends Greenspun Middle School and achieved her hours through audio books.

“It’s another success story I am very excited about,” Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen said. “All our students are special guests, but (Amber) is a very special guest. She has read enough audio books that she will earn a reward, too. Amber is a special person.”

Amber received a certificate and audio books of her choice as a reward at a ceremony May 24 at the Black Mountain Recreation Center, 599 Greenway Road.

Amber said she had no intention of winning the first-place award.

“It just kind of happened,” Amber said.

Students in the after-school programs Teen Scene and Safekey tallied their reading minutes over the year as part of the APPLE Partnership program.

Amber, who is in Teen Scene, had 7,575 reading minutes in the program.

Amber said one of her favorite reads this year was “The Goose Girl,” but she liked a variety of books.

“I really like funny books,” Amber said.

Her mother, Cathy Sterbentz, was with her at the ceremony.

“I had no idea she had read so much,” Sterbentz said. “(The APPLE Partnership) is a wonderful program. I think it gives kids that push they need.”

The city of Henderson started the APPLE Partnership in 2004. The program, which combines the efforts of the city, Henderson Libraries, private businesses and the Clark County School District, is designed to encourage children to become better and more engaged readers.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Hafen said about the partnership. “Studies show if students learn to read at a younger age, they will be very successful. That’s all we are trying to incorporate. We want to be a support to the school district.”

According to Bud Cranor, a spokesman with the city of Henderson, the program has three goals: communicate with the public the mission of the partnership; identify and promote community resources for families to assist their children to become successful readers; and establish partnerships within the community to provide resources and incentives to promote literacy efforts.

In addition to recognizing Amber, the city honored the second-place winner of the Teen Scene division and the first- and second-place Safekey winners: Olivia Ship, a student at Kesterson Elementary School who read 6,555 minutes; Ryan Spair, also a student at Kesterson Elementary who read 6,510 minutes; and Dalton Gravitt, a student at Brown Middle School who read 4,890 minutes.

Top winners received certificates of achievement and books of their choice.

Each year, the program sets a reading goal for all the children to reach. This year’s goal was 3,750,000 reading minutes. Children exceeded that goal and had 4,206,797 minutes, which equates to 70,113 hours of reading.

“That’s almost 500,000 minutes over our goal,” Hafen said. “I can’t believe the tally.”

According to Cranor, 3,528 Safekey and Teen Scene kids participated in the program.

Since the partnership began, the city has counted more than 17 million minutes read by children in the program.

In addition to acknowledging the individual top readers, the city recognized the top three schools. Dooley Elementary School received first place with more than 1.9 million minutes acquired. Vanderburg Elementary School was second, and Kesterson Elementary School was third.

At the ceremony, Hafen made the students a promise if they did three things.

“First, keep reading and read all you can read,” Hafen said. “Second, go on to get your high school diploma. Third, go to college or some type of vocational or technical school and get that degree. If you do all these, I promise you will be successful.”

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at or 387-5201.

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