Thursday, February 09, 2006

Reading Buddies Program

Reading Buddies - Handley Sophomores Visit John Kerr Wednesdays to Read to 1st-Graders

By Daneesha R. Davis The Winchester Star

Six-year-old Lizzy Bacha pulled the large picture book into her lap and pointed at the page.
“I spy three carrots,” she said, touching them with her finger.

Toni Ivanova, 16, smiled and leaned over the book to help Lizzy, a first-grader at John Kerr Elementary School, find a candle, keys, and other objects scattered across the page.

Toni, a Handley High School sophomore, is part of a group of 10 to 15 10th-graders who spend Wednesdays at John Kerr reading to first-graders.

John Handley High School sophomore Kelly Kinsey reads to John Kerr Elementary School first-grader Cameron Johnson during Reading Buddies program at John Kerr.(Photo by Jeff Taylor)

“I thought it would be really interesting,” Toni said. “It’s really cute to see how excited they get.”

The Reading Buddies program was started this year by Elise Delmerico, president of Handley’s sophomore class.

“I wanted to do projects that reached out to the community,” Elise said. Elise, who wants to be a teacher, said she thought the project would be good for bridging the gap between elementary and high school students.

After getting permission from school administrators to proceed with the program, it started the second week of September and has been highly successful, Elise said.

Handley students are dismissed at 3:15 p.m. John Kerr students are released at 3:20 a.m.

The Reading Buddies program lasts from 3:30 to 4 p.m.

Each Handley student teams with about two or three children. They pick a corner or comfortable spot and hunker down to read for half an hour.

Sometimes, the children read to the high school students.

“It’s a positive role model situation for them,” Elise said.

Toni, Lizzy’s reading buddy, said if students get in the habit of reading early, they’ll do better in school.

Sometimes, Elise throws in a few reading comprehension questions when reading.

Sophomore Steve Berkenkemper was reading a book about spacecraft and birds of prey.

“I really like kids and I thought it was about time I started working with kids,” he said about joining the program.

Steve’s reading buddy, 7-year-old Nealon Davis, asked Steve to talk about math.

So Steve gave him some multiplication problems to solve.

“I’ll give you a brain-buster,” he said. “What’s 12 times 12?”

Nealon said he liked math better, and then he became silent while trying to figure out the answer.

Brady Spaid, 6, said he likes being read to, especially if it’s from a Clifford book.

He sat watching and listening to Handley’s Elizabeth Barley read “Cinderella.”

Elizabeth said she’s having a lot of fun reading with the children.

“I’ve loved reading since I was little,” she said.

“Hopefully it will brush off on them too.”

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