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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Holland Hill Hooked on Reading

Holland Hill Hooked on Reading:
PTA Read-a-thon raises 
over $10,500 for programming
By Mike Lauterborn
(Posted to 6/4)
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – To see the children in their crazy hats and wacky wigs parading into the all-purpose room, you would think Halloween had come early. But they were just there to let off a little end-of-school-year-steam and celebrate a remarkable recent achievement.

Friday afternoon, Holland Hill Elementary School marked Readers Rock Day, the culmination of a week-long, first annual Read-a-Thon titled “Worm Your Way into Books”. To mark the occasion, children from grades K to 5 donned Spirit Wear and colorful accessories for a special assembly recognizing the students’ reading and fundraising accomplishments.

During the week of May 20-27, students were challenged to read as much as they could, record minutes read and seek sponsor donations from family and friends. The goal was to reach $5,000 to cover the cost of various PTA-sponsored enrichment programs, like field trips, author visits and fine art programs. Students well exceeded targets, reading nearly 50,000 minutes and raising over $10,500 for the school. For their efforts, top-achieving readers received gift baskets and gift cards, while the highest fundraiser received a color Nook reading device.

Marissa Vallillo, PTA President for 2011-2012, said Cindy Palaia, who sits on the PTA’s executive board, conceived and coordinated the Read-a-Thon, after seeing it done at other area schools. “We wanted an event that involved the whole school,” Vallillo said. “It got all of the kids reading from all grades and made sure there were prizes that were achievable. They were so into it, and the teachers got very involved and promoted it in their classrooms.”

Principal Frank Arnone led the award ceremony, congratulating the student body. “You have been working so very hard for this special day,” he said. “In one week, you were able to read 49,879.50 minutes. This wasn’t even school reading hours – it was afterschool and over the weekend, when you were going to bed and waking up. That alone is important, that you read books you really enjoyed. And all your reading helped the PTA.”

Teasing the group, Arnone said, “They thought maybe we could raise $100… $200… $1,000… $2,000… well, I’ve got a check here for $10,545.76! That’s more than any other single Holland Hill event ever raised before!”

The total elicited a collective gasp and resounding cheer from all present, then Arnone spoke about the prizing. “Because you read so much, we’re going to give prizes not just for first place, but first, second and third highest amounts.”

Arnone first announced the students and classes that had read for the most minutes. In the K-2 grade break, top boy and girl readers were 2nd grader Luca Upchurch, who read 1,205 minutes, and 2nd grader Sophie Lemley, who read 493 minutes. In that break, the top reading class was Mrs. Battista’s 2nd grade, with 3,735 minutes. In the 3-5 break, the top boy reader was 5th grader Robert Maron, at 964 minutes, and the top girl was 5th grader Christina Carilli, at 1,482 minutes. The top reading class in the 3-5 break was Mrs. Rosado’s 3rd grade, at 5,816 minutes.

Among top fundraisers was Kindergarten student Reilly Nathanson, who raised $327 and received a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card, and 3rd grader Peter Tavella, who raised $337.35 and received a $25 gift card.

The highest-achieving fundraiser, who won the coveted color Nook, was 5th grader Emily Cowen. She raised $404.50. Cowen, who has cerebral palsy and looked on from a wheelchair, was thrilled with her accomplishment and grinned broadly.

Melissa Fletcher, Emily’s mom, said about the studious youngster, “She worked very hard. She really wanted the Nook. She’s very excited to win it. Something like this will help her read better, as she won’t need to turn pages.”

Schoolmates, like eight-year-old Anastasia Crespo, were excited for Emily, too, and not disappointed they didn’t win the Nook themselves. “I pictured the Nook, which encouraged me to read even more,” she said. “When I heard Emily won it, I was so happy for her. She needed it more than I did and it’s really going to help her.”

Arnone promised the students that great things were going to come to them for their hard work. “We’re so proud of you, for reading every day, all the time.”