VUES to introduce read-a-thon
VERGENNES — Thanks to a link between the two schools, Vergennes Union Elementary School this winter is borrowing an educational fundraising tactic from Middlebury’s Mary Hogan School.
On Feb. 28, an all-school assembly at VUES will kick off that school’s “Read-a-Thon,” in which pupils can earn money for a future bonus program at VUES by reading books outside of the classroom and being paid to do so by sponsors, possibly at the suggested rate of a penny a minute.
That approach has worked well at Mary Hogan since 2011, according to Mary Hogan first-grade teacher Melissa Flint — who is also a Waltham resident and first-grade parent at VUES.
Flint and Michelle Eckels, a Vergennes resident and VUES third-grade parent, approached the VUES school-community organization and got its blessing, but no financial support, to introduce the Read-a-Thon to the Vergennes school.
“I just wanted to bring that sense of excitement to this school,” Flint said.
Flint said she doesn’t know how much money to expect the VUES Read-a-Thon to raise, although she hopes to earn enough to allow VUES to afford an artist-in-residence during the next academic year.
“I said to my husband I’d be happy if we got $5,000, and he said go low,” she said.
Flint is happy to report a half-dozen civic groups have helped fundraising outside of student sponsorship to get off to a good start.
They do not plan to ask city businesses for cash, but hope merchants will allow them to put up signs in windows or otherwise encourage young readers.
“We’re not asking community businesses to give money, but to show support for it,” Flint said. “We’re trying to get the word out to the community that this is happening at the school.”
In fact, encouraging young readers is the other, and probably more important, benefit to the Read-a-Thon approach to fundraising.
“We really want them to find a pure love for reading. If they haven’t been a reader before, maybe they will become a reader,” Flint said. “The biggest goal here is we wanted to get kids reading and have fun with it.”
Reading targets vary by grade level. Kindergarteners and first- and second-graders will be asked to read 15 minutes a day; third- and fourth-graders, 25 minutes, and fifth- and sixth-graders, 35 minutes. Younger students can count the time their parents read to them, and teachers will keep a running tally of reading time totals.
Individuals and classrooms that perform well will be rewarded. “Thundercat” readers, individuals who do the best, can earn extra treats from the school’s healthy snack cart, and high-performing classrooms can earn extra time in the city swimming pool for younger students and on the Vergennes Union High School ropes course for older groups.
Flint believes VUES pupils, who are seeking sponsors now, are buying in.
“The kids are pumped up about it,” she said.
Flint and Eckels are eager to see how the Read-a-Thon effort plays out at VUES.
“Michelle and I are just excited about learning as we go. How many are going to be Thundercat readers? Are we going to get 100 percent participation?” Flint said. “We’re curious to see what kind of response we get in the community and the school.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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