Mary Hogan kids will read to raise cash

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents have been able to count on certain fall rituals throughout the years. Those have included apple picking, raking leaves, stacking wood and an annual fund-raiser for Mary Hogan Elementary School student activities.
The Mary Hogan fund-raiser, for the past several years, has involved students asking friends and relatives to order items from catalogs. The school has received a cut from the sales, averaging $4,000 to $7,000 that is used annually to bankroll field trips and other creative scholastic amenities not covered through the regular ID-4 budget.
But that option was not universally popular.
“Not everyone has loved the catalog sales,” acknowledged MESA member and Read-a-thon committee member Erika Garner.
MESA, therefore, decided to go with a “novel” fund raising approach this year, one that asks the students to collect pledges based on the amount of time they spend reading outside of the classroom.
Mary Hogan’s first-ever Read-a-thon will run throughout the month of November. Students have already begin circulating pledge sheets requesting a financial commitment from each sponsor for every minute — or whatever unit of time is agreeable — that the child spends reading during the month.
“It is a fund-raiser as well as a celebration of reading,” said Janet Lapiner, a MESA member who brought the idea to Middlebury from her children’s previous school in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y.
She noted her children’s Brooklyn school, P.S. 8, had, as is the case at Mary Hogan, adopted the Read-a-thon as a fund-raising alternative to catalog sales.
And it paid some handsome dividends, according to Lapiner.
She said the school — which has a similar enrollment to Mary Hogan’s — raised $6,500 through its first Read-a-thon. By year six, the total had shot up to $65,000, she said.
“It brings the students, community and teachers together,” Lapiner said.
Lapiner said the friendly competition encourages children to be voracious readers. Adding motivation are prizesthat will be given out to top reading students and top reading classrooms.
Additionally, prizes will be given out to students between kindergarten and second grade who read more than 500 minutes, and to children in grades 3 through 6 who log more than 1,000 minutes. Prizes will include ice cream parties for top performing classrooms.
The younger students will be able to count the time that their parents spend reading to them.
All of the money raised goes to the school, as opposed to the mere percentage reaped through the catalogue sales.
Teachers will keep a running tally of the reading time totals. Students will bring their reading logs in on each Tuesday in November. On Thursday, Dec. 1, weekly totals plus grand totals will be tallied and posted at the school. Children will then begin collecting moneyfrom their sponsors. All money will be handed in to classroom teachers by Friday, Dec. 16.
“We are hoping all kids participate,” said MESA’s Garner. “And we will find sponsors for kids who need sponsors.”
Information about the Read-a-thon will be posted on the Mary Hogan website, maryhoganschool.org.
Organizers have scheduled two special literacy events during the Read-a-thon. The Ilsley Library will host a children’s gathering called “Think Globally, Read Locally” from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Nov. 12. And on Nov. 17, children’s book author Jason Chin will visit the school.
Garner hopes the Read-a-thon will become the Mary Hogan School’s permanent fall fund-raiser.
“The excitement is really building,” she said. “The children are really excited.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]

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