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Schools, community strengthen bonds through Read to Me Day

Nov. 22, 2013 @ 07:39 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Ever since Peyton Elementary School invited more than 100 community volunteers to participate in West Virginia's Read to Me Day, there has been no getting rid of them, said Lou Booth, a Parent Partner for the school.

"One woman volunteered to read last year, and now her church is making Thanksgiving dinner for the students," Booth said. "Peyton's school-to-community relationship is really a tight one, and it is so important that there are people who are willing to take that time to come here and read to them."

Schools throughout Cabell and Wayne counties participated in the statewide reading event, which is the product of a partnership between the West Virginia Department of Education and other state organizations.

Read to Me Day is the third Thursday of each November, and it annually corresponds with American Education Week, which takes place the week before Thanksgiving.

The day is an opportunity for educators and community members to engage students in reading, and each school puts its own twist on the event.

Students and teachers at Peyton dressed up as their favorite storybook characters, and each student had the opportunity to pick his or her favorite book and have it read to them by one of the volunteers, which included parents, community volunteers, business leaders, Cabell County School Board employees and Marshall University athletes, Booth said.

"Reading is so important because it takes kids to places they could never go to before," Booth said. "When they get that one-on-one attention, that just makes all of the difference for some of these kids."

Students at Central City Elementary took a different spin on the day by using it to host a day-long Read-A-Thon event to raise more than $300 for the Huntington City Mission's Thanksgiving dinner.

Fourth-grade teacher Brianne Seplocha said she was looking for a way to incorporate a community project into her classroom as part of the new Common Core teaching standards, and she said it was the students who decided what their project would be and how they would execute it.

"It makes me happy to see that they are taking this on themselves," Seplocha said. "There isn't one person telling them how to do it, how to feel about it or what they should think. They are doing this on their own."

Students at Altizer Elementary School turned the day into a storybook character theme day, and the Village of Barboursville Elementary School participated in the event with team spirit day.

In Wayne County, Appalachian Electric Power employees and community volunteers visited Ceredo, Prichard, Genoa and Kenova elementary schools to read to students during the event.

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