One highlight was the enthusiastic participation of community members who volunteered their time to read with students. Students and community members chose from 17 different reading rooms, each with its own theme. Guest readers were given the option of bringing some of their own favorite books and passages, or reading from whichever book was underway when they arrived in their chosen room. Mayor Jon Mitchell, the day after winning re-election, and WBSM radio station talk show host Phil Paleologos read in the Banned Books room. Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro visited the Harry Potter room. FUN 107’s Mike Rock and Chris Arseneault (Gazelle) were in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid room while local radio and TV broadcaster Jim Phillips read in Non Fiction Sports. In all, 16 community members joined GLCPS staff as guest readers in the various themed rooms.
“One unexpected but very exciting benefit of this event is the connections we made with all of our guests,” said 8th grade English teacher Lindsey Parker. “So many of them loved the experience and want to return to engage more with our students in a variety of ways. They have so much to offer our students through their experiences, skills and activities.”
The event was organized by the middle school and high school English and Humanities teachers.
“Students chose the themes and the books for the read-a-thon,” explained GLCPS high school English teacher Colbylyn Gilman, “so there was a good balance for all levels of readers and interests.” Other themes included Slam Poetry, Graphic Novels, Young Adult Romance and LGBTQ. “Students also could choose to read independently in a few designated spaces throughout the school. The goal was to have everyone read something they could enjoy and maybe be introduced to a genre that they would like to learn more about,” said Gilman.
In some of the rooms, the adult facilitator included technology and videos to enhance the group reading. “My favorite part was seeing the Batman book online,” wrote Jose Santiago, a 5th grade student at GLCPS. “It was cool and I like Superheroes.”
Several students said they really enjoyed learning about the guest readers. “I enjoyed listening to the guest speaker talk about his experience with social injustice,” wrote Kelsey Rodrigues. Asked if the experience would inspire her to ream more books of that particular genre, she wrote, “yes, because I would like to know more about it.”
For high school senior Isabella Andrade, her favorite part was ‘talking about social justice, and how it is through the world, and how it is written about in books.”
For some students, their favorite part of the day was having someone read to them. Aiyanna Lopes, a junior, who spent a session in the Young Adult Romance and LGBTQ Room enjoyed “listening to guest reader and local actress Mrs. (Caroline) Paradis read the stories. I loved how she put emotion into it.” Isabelle Fragato, an eighth grade student, wrote that her favorite part of the session was having a book read aloud.
GLCPS Social Worker Karen Leblanc said she was taken aback by what one of the students told her. Ms. Leblanc was reading a book to the student in one of the independent reading spaces when the student told her how much she enjoyed having an adult read to just her. “She (the student) told me that her parents read to her when she was young but stopped once she learned how to read on her own, and that she really missed that.”
The fundraising took part within the home rooms and there was some good-natured competition among the students.
“We used fundraising thermometers and posted them outside of our classrooms so all the students could see them,” said high school English teacher Shannon Flaherty. “That really amped up the competition between the grades!”
“For every $5.00 a student brought in, they received a raffle ticket for a chance to win one of three gift cards to a local bookstore,” said Gilman. “Also, the grade that raised the most receives a pizza party.”
As it turned out, when the winners were announced at the end of the day, there was only a one dollar difference between the 9th and 10th grade classes with the 10th grade raising $552 and the 9th grade class raising $553. “But then, one of the teachers donated a dollar to the 10th grade tie it up so both 9th and 10th grade students win a pizza party,” said Gilman.
The 8th grade raised the most money in the middle school with $536.00.
Altogether, the Read-a-thon raised $2,366.50.
“It may not seem like a lot to some people but to us, it’s a windfall. It will all go towards purchasing books that the students have picked out.” said Gilman, adding that they are already planning for next year’s read-a-thon.