NEW ROCHELLE, NY --The younger students in the City School District of New Rochelle will kick their reading habits into high gear in October. The New Ro Reads project, organized by the district and the PTA, will include the district's largest ever readathon initiative, a project that encourages students to pack years' worth of reading into a single month.
It begins Monday, with a Stop, Drop and Read activity across the district. At precisely 10 a.m., everyone in the district's seven grade schools (as well as Isaac E. Young Middle School) will drop what they're doing and spend 10 minutes reading whatever they want - a book of their choice, a magazine or a newspaper. That means the students, teachers, custodians and office staff. Everyone. Even the district's main office will join in, including Superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne.
"If you're in, around or even close to a school building, we're going to ask you to spend a few minutes reading," Dr. Osborne said at a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday.
Three the elementary schools - George M. Davis Jr., Jefferson and William B. Ward - will run readathons, in which students find sponsors who offer donations based on how many minutes the child reads during the month. Columbus and Daniel Webster will follow with readathons in November. The activity not only encourages students to read, it is also a major fundraiser for the schools' PTAs, which support enrichment programs for the schools.
The other two elementary schools, Trinity and the Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center, will encourage reading with other programs. Some of the schools will hold events with games and prizes throughout the month to keep the momentum going.
The readathon idea began at Ward School as a fifth-grade activity in 2013. The following year, it expanded to grades K-5. Davis, Trinity and Webster also have held the event. But this will be the first time the readathons are coordinated among schools.
The amount of time students spend reading is remarkable. Last October, Ward students alone logged 1.6 million minutes of reading. That's the equivalent of more than three years.
"Once the readathon started, wonderful things began to happen," said Michelle Balachandran, president-elect of the PTA Council, who was PTA president of Ward School when the first one began. "Children were reading to their younger siblings. Reading teachers reported an increase in reading scores. Parents said their children were reading at higher levels and were finding ways to fit in extra reading time, such as keeping a book in the car to read. All around, it was an amazing thing."