Nearly five weeks ago, when 9-year-old Michael Martel was asked to make the sounds of consonants, he sat on the edge of his chair.
His voice was quiet, uncertain as each answer came out as a question, and he faltered over the sounds made by "V" and "X."
But on Friday, Michael didn't falter, reciting the consonant sounds with confidence and flipping the chart he was supposed to be reading over for added effect. He sat up straight and tall with his hands folded in front of him and a smile on his face.
Michael was one of eight students who completed Carden Academy of Huntington Beach's Reading Challenge 2010. The private school, which focuses on teaching students to read at a young age using phonetics, piloted a free five-week intensive summer reading program for local students with gaps in their reading skills.
Michael's mother, Marcia Martel, said she has already seen a big difference in his reading, handwriting and confidence, and Michael agreed.