Future Reflections         Summer 2009

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Braille Readers Are Leaders!
Winners of the 2008-09 Contest

Some of the Braille Readers are Leaders winners gathered at the 2009 National Convention. Pictured here (left to right) are Daniel Dintzner, Jordan Richardson, Gabriella Welsh, Anna Walker, Emma Tubberville, Megan Palmer, Kalah Dolman, and Gabby Nicholas.In 1984 the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC), in conjunction with the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), launched an annual contest to encourage Braille reading among blind students. Over the past twenty-six years thousands of blind children and teens have entered the Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest, competing for cash prizes as they build their reading speed and deepen their love for words on the page.

This year the contest began on November 1, 2008, and concluded on January 4, 2009, the two hundredth anniversary of Louis Braille's birth. During the nine weeks of the contest, teachers and parents helped each contestant maintain a careful record of the number of Braille pages he/she read. (Materials returned for school assignments did not count.)

Prizes were awarded in five categories according to grade: kindergarten-grade 1, grades 2-3, grades 4-5, grades 6-8, and grades 9-12. Contestants also competed for Twin Vision® Awards, granted to students who read both Braille and print; Most Improved Awards, provided to students who made substantial improvement over the past year; Jennifer Baker Awards, given to  students who have overcome significant obstacles to become Braille literate; and Community Service Awards. The Community Service Awards were granted to students in grades 6-12 who used their Braille skills to provide services to individuals or organizations in the community.

All students who registered in advance for the contest received a "Braille Readers Are Leaders" T-shirt. A prize of $50 was awarded to the first-place winner in each category, and twelve winners were awarded a trip to the 2009 NFB convention in Detroit.

Below are listed the names of the 2009 Braille Readers Are Leaders winners, along with his/her state and the number of pages read. The winners of the twelve trips to the NFB National Convention in Detroit are marked with an asterisk.

Grades K-1

Alayna Hall, IN: 5,000.
Taylor Thompson, AK: 1,459.
Kendra Holloway, GA: 1,246.

Grades 2-3

*Anna Walker, PA, 11,033.
*Gabrielle Nicholas, MO, 8,112.
Shaylin Wells, OK, 7,896.

Grades 4-5

 Lucas Leiby, PA, 8,083.
 Merlyn Hileman, CA, 7,058.
*Gabriella Welsh, WI, 6,044.

Grades 6-8

*Kalah Dolman, NY, 11,777.
Roosevelt Thermitus, FL, 7,782.
John Carnemolla, 7,144. CT

Grades 9-12

*Daniel Dintzner, MA, 18,107.
Minh Tam Ha, MA, 8,270.
Arron (AJ) Faxon, Jr., VA, 6,390.

Community Service Awards

*Mary Church, CA
*Jordan Richardson, MN
*Kayla Weathers, GA
*Jonathan Welscott, MI

Jennifer Baker Awards

 Raquel Barajas, AZ
 Kathryn Hurd, MO
 Boh-Lee Kim, NY
 Justin Thompkins, MO

Twin Vision® Awards

Jonathan Gutierrez, PA
*Megan Palmer, UT
Michael Smedley, PA
*Emma Tubberville, MA
Elijah Veltre, WV

Most Improved Awards

*Isabel Nieves, GA 
Danielle Sowell, SC
Alexis Tabb, SC

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