Evan Gerding, a freshman at Wellington High School, plays football, marches in the band, and now helps with the elementary reading program.
He got a first-hand taste of the new program Jan. 29.
That’s when he and Miranda McDonnell, a junior, read to students in Cathy Kurtz’s third grade classroom at Westwood Elementary School. On the reading menu was “Rotten Ritchie and the Ultimate Dare.”
Before they started, the two gave a few words of advice to the kids: “Extracurricular activities are very important, but when you want to do them you are considered a student athlete,” Gerding said. “And when you are a student athlete, student comes first. Grades are very important, so stick with it and do good in school.”
The kids listened, nodded and then scooted up to hear the story.
Gerding, McDonnell, and six other high-schoolers took time to stress the importance of reading and good grades.
The program is the brainchild of Dan Gundert, Dukes varsity basketball coach and third grade teacher. He knows athletes and older students are looked up to as role models, so what better way to involve them than by reading to their younger peers?
It wasn’t so long ago that Everett Kropff was a student in Gundert’s third grade classroom. Now a sophomore, Kropff is part of the reading crew. He and classmates Matt Norton and Max Carevic read “Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs,” to the class.
Kids laughed and giggled at the book. Afterward they asked the athletes questions: Are you guys all friends? Do you play football together? Did you used to play dodgeball? Is there recess at the high school?
“It was fun seeing all the kids having a good time,” Kropff said.
Also part of the inaugural reading group were freshman Nick Arno and sophomores Abbey Drake and Tristan Arno.
The reading program is held most Friday mornings.
Students who participate can receive community service hours. a graduation requirement, for their time. “They were very enthusiastic and it’s good for them to get out of their routine and their comfort zone,” said Wellington High School assistant principal Sean Arno, who oversees the program.
Catherine Gabe can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @ReporterGabe on Twitter.
Photos by Catherine Gabe | Wellington Enterprise
Wellington High School students arrive at Westwood Elementary students ready to read to the younger students.