Read Across America 2017

Anna Rose King, Staff Writer

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This past Thursday, a variety of PJP students visited grade schools across the diocese and those nearby to read to grade schoolers ranging from pre-kindergarten through first grade. This nation-wide event began with the National Education Association, which began in 1857.

According to the NEA website, at its founding, one hundred educators joined forces to ensure that children would be given an opportunity to partake in an activity that most kids today take for granted. These educators, devoted teachers like ours, took the future in their hands to enable all children, regardless of race, family income, or place of residence, the opportunity to have education, and, most importantly, to be able to read. At that time teaching black children to read was a crime, so this organization was formed to counteract this injustice and promote education for children for many years to come… Over 150 years later, the National Education Association has over 3.2 million members and has joined with the National Teachers Association to bring national Read Across America Day to public schools and beyond.

PJP was fortunate enough to have this wonderful event be brought to our attention, starting with former PJP teacher Ms. Courtney Cary, who had the idea to start Read Across America here at PJP. The purpose of this event is to promote reading on the grade school level on the birthday of Dr. Suess. Ms. Cary, busy with her teaching position, decided that she should hand the event over to the admissions department, to Ms. Moffett and Ms. Callen specifically, and since then it has been orchestrated by them as an admissions marketing-type event.

In grade schools, teachers would bring in Dr. Suess books for the week of his birthday, read them with the kids, and explain who Dr. Suess is. “It’s a fun week for the students to just focus on reading, rather than any other subject,” said Ms. Moffett. “They just try to bring reading more into [that week].”

Last year, over one hundred student ambassadors were volunteered to visit grade schools to read to the kids. The admissions office asked grade schools in the area if they would be interested in participating in the event, and they received a huge response. The PJP student ambassadors visited over fifty classrooms and had a great time reading the book Wacky Wednesday (since Read Across America Day fell on a Wednesday last year) to the grade school students.

In the past, the selection process for which high schoolers would go to the grade schools was different, but instead of students from Pope John Paul signing up, this time, Ms. Moffett thought that since the event was mainly centered around reading, that partnering with the English department would be a great help in choosing PJP representatives. Our English teachers recommended students who would be good readers and also students  they thought might personally benefit from going out in this way and reading to these kids or who should get more involved with school events like this.

Student ambassadors were involved in this event again this year. They went back to their former grade schools from which they graduated so that they would enjoy seeing their former teachers, and also so that their teachers would enjoy seeing them again. There were some schools, however, where it was more difficult to find students who had graduated from them, such as St. Patrick School in Malvern and St. Elizabeth Parish School. For those schools, responsible seniors were sent so that a proper representation of Pope John Paul II High School would be shown in schools where our students had never been.

Collectively, PJP visited Corpus Christi Catholic School, Holy Cross Regional School, Holy Family School, Holy Rosary Regional Catholic School, Mater Dei Catholic School, Saint Teresa of Calcutta School, St. Elizabeth Parish School, St. Francis Academy, St. Francis of Assisi School, St. Mary School, St. Patrick School, and Visitation B.V.M.

This year, the book our students read to grade schoolers was There’s a Wocket in my Pocket!, which a total of 122 PJP students read when visiting around 50-60 classrooms. The event was very rewarding for both the grade-schoolers and high schoolers, once again. Lauren Ciuba (PJP ‘19) remarked, “It was a great experience, not just for the adorable kids, but for myself, too.”

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