TROY — Hundreds of regular participants in the Concord Elementary “Reading Buddies” program came together at the Troy High School gymnasium on Wednesday for an end-of-year ice cream luau.
Approximately 100 first graders and 120 high school students participated in the “Reading Buddies” program during the 2017-18 school year.
“I started the program 10 years ago with my own classroom, and it has grown to include all five of our first grade classrooms,” said Myra Sanders, first grade teacher at Concord Elementary. “Cookson Elementary has a branch of ‘Buddies,’ too.”
High school students who wish to participate in the program are invited to sign up each spring for the following school year.
“The day before school starts, I host a training session to show the high school students how to help first graders decode words they don’t know,” Sanders said. “I introduce them to teachers they will be working with and give them their student’s name. Starting in September, the high school kids come to Concord one day a week to read with their first grader in the hallway. They come after their own school day has ended, but while we’re still in session here at the elementary.”
At Wednesday’s luau event, Concord first graders traveled by bus to Troy High School’s gym, where they had lunch with their “Reading Buddy” during each high schooler’s regular lunch period. In the down time, first graders went to various stations to complete activities, such as hula hoop jumps, summer bingo, limbo, and lei-making.
This year, Culver’s was on site to provide free custard to “Reading Buddies” participants.
“The custard was provided at a discount through a grant and an award that I received,” Sanders said. “Concord PTO has also been supportive of the program. I contacted the owner, Derek Potts, and he was happy to help out.”
According to Sanders, the program has continued to enforce positive learning lessons for both participating age groups.
“The reward is twofold,” Sanders said. “The first graders are given a positive role model that they look up to and love spending time with. Their high school student sends a powerful message: that reading is exciting and worthwhile and that it’s so important that high school kids like to do it. The high school kids are given the benefit of being that role model and positive influence. They learn accountability, responsibility, as well as the importance of volunteerism.”
At year’s end, first graders give their “Reading Buddy” a picture frame featuring the two of them, while the high school students provide them with another book as a keepsake.
“The first group of kids that I had as first graders are now ‘Reading Buddies’ themselves, so the program has come full circle,” Sanders exclaimed. “They are paying it forward!”
For more information, visit www.troy.k12.oh.us.