Students read ‘Across America’ — and up the road

Every year on March 2, the National Education Association challenges schools across the nation to “Read Across America.” This challenge program asks that every child stop and enjoy reading a book as part of a birthday celebration for Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, author of more than 60 children’s books, including such famous works as “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.”

RCHS students and Lady Panthers softball teammates Brittani Dodson, Hannah Kopjanski and Lauren Settle.

The special day is designed to promote literacy and heighten interest in reading throughout communities.

For this year’s event, RCHS Lady Panthers softball coach Jamie Harris decided to get some of his athletes involved. Hannah Kopjanski, Lauren Settle and Brittani Dodson gave up their lunchtime and traveled to Rappahannock Elementary to read aloud to several groups of kindergarteners.

The athletes reported to the elementary library with Barb Wheatley and chose Dr. Seuss books to read aloud. Each player and Harris himself read to different classes in various areas of the building.

Kopjanski explained why she enjoyed the experience: “I liked it because it let kids get comfortable with older students. It helps the little kids not be so shy.” Kopjanski’s group met in Ms. Tisera’s classroom. “I read three Dr. Seuss books to the class. The kids were learning Spanish, so they had to say, ‘Gracias’ to me when I finished.”

In the kindergarten gym class, Settle stretched with the students, then sat in middle of the court. “I read “The Tooth Book.” They laughed at every single page.”

Dodson chose “I Am Not Going to Get Up Today.” “The class was really quiet and well-behaved. I really enjoyed it. It is a good thing to do for the kids – definitely time well spent.”

The Ladies’ coach was obviously proud. “It didn’t just promote our athletes,” Harris said. “Being a part of the day allowed teachers and students to see beyond the athletes. Kids enjoyed it and were really excited about reading with the girls.”

“As athletes, we should be leaders and good role models,” Settle added. Kopjanski saw the value in the effort, too: “As leader-athletes, we should show kindness. Caring for others is important. We should be a good influence and do things like this more often. It will help the school be more family like.”

Coach Harris is planning to visit the elementary school again with additional softball players and some wrestlers. He is hoping to see the athletes help all the way into the fourth-grade level. “It is fun to get the kids more excited about reading. Plus, we want RCES to see that we do care about their students, too.”