RoxEl PTA celebrates literacy with first read-a-thon
The Roxboro Elementary School (RoxEl) PTA held its first read-a-thon in September. The event followed more than five years of PTA and school partnerships designed to encourage literacy, and expanded on Roxboro's 2021–22 school-year theme: #RoxREADS.
The 10-day event encouraged students to pledge to read for at least 20 minutes each night—with the schoolwide goal of reaching 46,000 total reading minutes during the event. RoxEl students surpassed that goal, reading a total of 72,035 minutes, or 1,200 hours. The top reader for the school, fifth-grader Oliver Costello, read for 2,160 minutes. Students who read and logged their reading minutes were rewarded with raffle tickets for prize baskets. Prizes were also awarded to the top readers in each grade; to Costello, as top reader for the school; and to seven additional students who each read for more than 1,000 minutes.
Many local businesses sponsored read-a-thon prizes. They included Luna Bakery & Cafe; Card My Yard, Shaker Heights; Justin Ragor, State Farm agent; Little River Pet Resort; Cari Nelson, of McDowell Homes; The Children's Museum of Cleveland; New Leaf Landscaping; Skettle Electric; Quintana's Barber & Dream Spa; Mac's Backs-Books on Coventry; S'Wonderful Gifts; Jumpstart Gymnastics; Tommy's; and Appletree Books. Students were encouraged, but not required, to ask family and friends to sponsor their reading with donations.
During the week, the PTA hosted themed days to increase motivation. "Wednesday's theme was ‘Chill out with a good book,’ and we provided popsicles for everyone," said Mary Pat Jolivette, co-chair of the PTA's literacy committee.
The read-a-thon also included nightly virtual read-alouds, enabling students to listen to books read by teachers, staff, and Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby. Students were encouraged to log the minutes they spent listening to read-alouds, reading in school, and reading at home to family, friends, or even to the family pet.
The PTA capped off read-a-thon week with the Amazing Reading Race, an outdoor event in which students and their families raced through six stops in the Coventry neighborhood, playing literacy games, and finding clues to finish the race.
"The Amazing Reading Race wasn't just fun for the families, but really important in reconnecting our community. Many families have felt isolated [during the pandemic], and this event enabled us to see one another safely, and to remember what fun it is to be part of Tiger Nation," said Jolivette.
Since 2016, the PTA, administration, and teachers at Roxboro have partnered for literacy-based programs. The PTA purchased, and continues to stock, a book-vending machine in the school, providing free new books to students several times a year. This year's #RoxREADS theme builds on the momentum created.
"The RoxEl staff is committed to getting our students excited about reading. We want to model good behaviors through different activities, such as Drop Everything and Read, sharing books we enjoy with students, reading during lunch time, and demonstrating that we all love to read," said Shelley Pulling, RoxEl’s principal.
Literacy-based initiatives also help the school meet its learning goals. "The #RoxREADS initiative has helped to close our achievement gaps by engaging in routines and programming that are inclusive of all students. Our staff has shown great determination as we ensure that all students have opportunities to increase daily reading time," said Candace Summers, Title I lead at the school.
As Roxboro celebrated nearly 100% participation in the read-a-thon, students were rewarded with an outdoor dance party sponsored by the PTA. To learn more about RoxEl PTA's literacy-based initiatives, go to roxelpta.org/read-a-thon.html.
Clare Taft is co-chair of the PTA's literacy committee and former president of the RoxEl PTA.