Douglas County Schools and Local Nonprofit Receive Summer Reading Rewards

For immediate release: October 3, 2023

Douglas County Libraries and the DCL Foundation recently presented cash awards to four Douglas County schools and local nonprofit Guide Dogs for the Blind as part of DCL’s 2023 Dog Days of Summer reading program. Roxborough Primary School, Mountain Ridge Middle School, ThunderRidge High School, and Ben Franklin Academy each earned $500 for securing the most Summer Reading signups per school level in the program’s school contest. Guide Dogs for the Blind was awarded $1,000 as the nonprofit recipient of the community reading goal.

School contest signups were tallied via DCL’s Beanstack online registration app. The school in each category with the most signups as a percentage of 2022-2023 enrollment earned the award.

“The love of reading is alive and well in Douglas County!” said DCL Special Events Supervisor Kristen Kallio. “It’s great to see how excited kids get about reading for fun, and how motivated our participants are to read for a good cause. Our community has a big heart for their schools and for these nonprofit partners, and it’s really a win-win for everyone.”

Summer Reading encourages reading from a young age and helps to keep kids reading during school breaks, so they grow up with a strong foundation in literacy. Readers of all ages are also encouraged to participate.

At ThunderRidge High School, Teacher Librarian Stephanie Sjoland said some fresh titles and additional copies are needed in the library, so they’ll use the prize money to buy more books. “We have so many people here who love reading and the summer reading program, and our goal is to create more readers every year,” Sjoland said.

“I am very excited to be able to use the money to purchase great new books for our collection,” said Alicia D’Antonio, Librarian at Mountain Ridge Middle School. “We have some voracious readers at Mountain Ridge and keeping them excited about what the library has to offer is important to the growth of the program and building lifelong learners.”

Ben Franklin Academy Librarian Deb Williams gets students excited about summer reading well before DCL’s program begins. “Not only do our students love to read, they also love to win prizes. When we tell them that we can win $500 to buy new books, they get really excited,” Williams said. “We received the award on Monday, and on Tuesday we placed an order for new books, including The Babysitters Club, Bad Guys, Minecraft, and a couple book series that will be new to our library,” she added.

Williams and Ben Franklin Academy Principal Diana Simpson also recognize the role that students’ parents play in their success.

“Our community of parents is one in a million. Without their continued support, we would not be able to make this happen each year,” Simpson said.

Rick Kendall, Principal at Roxborough Primary School, expressed pride in his students and their love for reading. “The Roxborough branch of DCL does such a great job in partnering with our school as we work together to nurture both the skills and passion in our students to become lifelong readers,” he said. The school will use their award to create a daylong celebration of reading for students later this school year.

Summer Reading isn’t just for kids, however. Each year, DCL encourages communitywide participation through the program’s community reading challenge, which benefits a local nonprofit if the reading goal is met. This year, participants exceeded the goal of 9 million minutes read by nearly a million minutes.

Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) is a nonprofit, charitable organization that seeks to provide a safe means of mobility for people who are blind and visually impaired. The Highlands Ranch Puppy Raisers train guide dogs from approximately eight weeks old to between 15 and 17 months old, on a completely volunteer basis.

“This [prize] will cover a year’s worth of expenses,” said Darlene White, Volunteer Puppy Club Leader for GDB Highlands Ranch Colorado Puppy Club. Some of those expenses include socialization outings for the puppies, to expose them to as many things as possible so they’re prepared to keep their person safe once they graduate the program.

“We’re so thankful the Foundation chose us, and we’re benefiting from these funds,” White added.

Summer Reading will return in June 2024, along with the annual school contest and community reading challenge.

To learn more about the Douglas County Libraries Foundation, visit

Douglas County Libraries elevates our community by inspiring a love of reading, discovery and connection.