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RACINE — Students at Wadewitz Elementary School, 2700 Yout St., sent the Racine Police Department‘s sergeants, officers and cadets swimming in a dunk tank on June 5, after a successful first Dunk-A-Cop Reading Challenge.

Dunk a Cop Reading Challenge
The Racine Police Department hosted a Dunk-A-Cop Reading Challenge as a way to encourage reading at Wadewitz Elementary. – Credit: Emma Widmar

From May 16 until May 31, the school participated in the first Dunk-A-Cop Reading Challenge hosted by Ofc. Travis Brady of the Anthony Lane COP House, 2437 Anthony Lane, along with the Racine Police Department.

Becoming book worms

Students from all grade levels collectively logged 13,090 minutes of reading during the challenge. There was an average of 175 students reading weekly.

Reports from Wadewitz indicate that the most successful week included 251 people participating. The lowest recorded students participating totaled 91 students.

Over the course of the challenge, students at Wadewitz read 3,423 books.

Reading alongside the students were nearly 40 individuals from the Racine Police Department who contributed to reading to students for a total of 500 minutes throughout the challenge.

From the department, students received visits from veterans like Chief Maurice Robinson to those enrolled in the Cadet program, who are just getting their feet wet in law enforcement. They even got a special visit from David Arvai, K-9 handler, and his partner, K9 Officer Karma.

Connecting with cops

As the Racine County Eye previously reported, the challenge started because Ofc. Brady recognized that an individual’s ability to read can go a long way.

Not having the skills to read can negatively impact life well beyond childhood.

Dunk a Cop Reading Challenge
Ofc. Brady from the Anthony Lane Cop House spoke to students from Wadewitz about their participation in the first Dunk-A-Cop Reading Challenge. – Credit: Emma Widmar

The challenge also helped connect the school, students, their families, and the community to the police department in a positive way.

Don Katzer, the Directing Principal of Wadewitz believes this reading challenge helped encourage reading, but also helped create a connection with the local police department.

“Anytime you compete in things, the stakes are up a bit,” says Katzer. “The atmosphere was excitement, the atmosphere was a positive one.”

Students observed law enforcement in a different light during this reading challenge. Time spent with officers wasn’t just time spent reading, it was time that allowed children to ask questions, communicate and connect with these first responders.

“We had so many visitors throughout the past few weeks with officers coming into the building. The kids recognize that every time it was a surprise. It was really good,” states the Directing Principal.

Dunking the department

As a reward, around 100 students, were able to soak various Racine Police Department members, in uniform, in a dunk tank on the school grounds.

“It’s all for the kids.”

Ofc. Caleb Mckenzie

Not one member of the department walked away dry or without a smile on their face.

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