United Way of North Central Massachusetts awarded three local students prizes for winning the Footsteps2Brilliance Winter Reading Challenge, part of the organization’s early childhood literacy program. All three winners are first generation U.S. citizens, and English is their second language.

Aenea Batista, a second-grade student from Winchendon Public Schools, took the top spot, Sami Rahman, a first grader at McKay Arts Academy in Fitchburg, came in second, and Julia Roufael, a Pre-K student at Page Hilltop Elementary School in Ayer, placed third. Each reader won a brand-new Kindle Fire HD 8 kids edition tablet and gift baskets loaded with goodies including a United Way T-shirt, coloring book, and crayons.

Read the full article in the Sentinel & Enterprise here.

(From left) Kory Eng, United Way of North Central Mass President; Michelle Atter, Memorial Elementary School Principal; first place winner Aenea Batista; Webster Batista, Aenea’s father; and Suzanne Michel, Director of Pupil Services, Winchendon Public Schools.

(From left) Kory Eng, United Way of North Central Mass President; Fitchburg Public Schools Superintendent Robert Jokela; second place winner Sami; Sami’s father Moklesur Rahman; and Sami’s grandmother Jamila Begum.

(From left) Kory Eng, United Way of North Central Mass President; Mrs. Roufael, Julia’s mother; third place winner Julia Roufael; Mary Beth Hamel, Director of Student Services, Ayer Shirley Regional School District; and Kerry Harris, PreK teacher at Page Hilltop Elementary School.