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Everyone loves a good race, and this is especially true for elementary students and their parents.
The Roger Bacon Academy’s annual FASTAR event isn’t about racing cars or bikes. FASTAR is a race of academic skills. Nearly 400 charter school student-racers test the speed of their reading and math skills at this annual event.
Students must practice math and reading proficiencies to qualify for the FASTAR race day. When they qualify, they compete for trophies and gold medals while their classmates, parents and supporters cheer them on to the finish line.
“This annual event has captivated our students and parents,” said Superintendent Mark Cramer. “Our students practice their academic skills in a very fun and competitive environment.”
FASTAR stands for Fluent Academic Skills Tournament for Arithmetic and Reading. Modeled upon auto racing, this extra-curricular competition took place on March 6 at Charter Day School in Leland and on March 8 at Columbus Charter School in Whiteville.
Race coordinator Jesse Smith has seen FASTAR make incredible differences in student’s academic lives. FASTAR has changed many students’ skill levels to grow in areas where they would not have been previously challenged. The competition drives each student to become better in math and reading, and the results are better overall academic growth.
Elementary students practice throughout the school year to increase fluency and become nearly automatic in reading and in math facts. FASTAR offers a fun and rewarding experience for students in setting higher performance goals. When a student becomes fluent in a skill, they benefit in numerous ways: increased endurance, longer retention, broader application, and faster problem solving with better immunity from distractions.
It doesn’t matter how smart you are, explained school founder Baker Mitchell, who devised the competition. The winners are those who practice the most and are most devoted to honing their skills.
The FASTAR race series consists of four race courses geared toward specific grade levels from K-5. The current race courses include: the Charter Day 140 for grade K; the Teach Well 220 for first and second grade, the Booster Club 350 for third and fourth grade, and the Bacon 400 for fifth grade. Each race has a course layout with several straight-aways.
For example, the Booster Club 350 consists of a 260-word reading passage that leads into three turns of math facts arranged in 30 problems each for addition, subtraction and multiplication. The racers all begin together when the green flag drops and must cover all items in order. The first racer to finish all items in the entire course with the fewest errors gets the black-and-white checkered flag.
As in auto racing, each child has a sponsor, crew chief, pit crew and mechanic to help them race to success in weekly tune-ups at the “garage” classroom after school. The volunteers can be anyone who wants to provide support and encouragement to help each racer meet the qualifying speed and accuracy rates set forth for their competition level. Every student who qualifies for an event will have already reached a significant milestone in achieving mastery of basic academic skills. Winners of the races receive trophies and all participants receive medals and FASTAR T-shirts. The race will be open to the public and family participation is encouraged.
The Roger Bacon Academy schools are tuition-free, open enrollment K-8 public schools in southeastern North Carolina. Since 2000, The Roger Bacon Academy has focused on quality education and is a premier performance-driven year round school. Widely recognized as a compelling choice to conventional public education the schools have built a reputation for dedicated and highly qualified teachers that give students a strong and proven academic foundation.
The Roger Bacon Academy schools have received numerous awards, including the designation of being a Top-25 School for Academic Growth and of Excellence in the state of North Carolina.