BROOKSVILLE — There was a lot of reading going on at Eastside Elementary School as it hosted community members and business partners for the National Education Association's Read Across America event on March 2.
Arriving between 8:30 and 9 a.m. visitors flocked to the school to spend a little bit of their day encouraging students to read and showing them how much fun it can be.
The day's activities began even before the community members arrived. In the morning there was a book giveaway where every kindergarten child received a new book.
As they arrived, the business partners and community members met in Beth Zacharias' Family Center, where they chose stories and met with their student escorts, who took them to their assigned classrooms.
Hernando County School Board member James Yant was one of the readers and noted that reading is the key to everything. Yant encouraged parents to assist teachers in sparking the reading interest in their children.
"If parents start reading to kids before they go to school, it's better," he said. "Some kids don't get read to until they get to school. The kids who read more, know more and they're going to be better students."
Hernando County Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Frank DeFrancesco was also at the school. "Working with the kids is really important and everything we do revolves around reading," he said. "This is the basic building block for everything we do in the future."
Exceptional Student Education parent liaison Janeen Defilippo said, "It's so important for the kids to see how important reading is and how far it'll take them."
There were readers for almost every classroom. Some of the fourth-graders shared their ideas about why it is a good idea to be an accomplished reader.
"So you can succeed more in life and get a better job," said LeAndre Fagin, 9.
Priscilla Rojero, 10, said, "Reading is important because it makes your brain stronger and you learn more." It was good for visitors to come read, she said, "Maybe because you meet new people and sometimes you can meet someone who is an important person."
This special reading day wasn't all about visitors. They left midmorning. Throughout the day there were other activities, like the school's "Reading Cheer" recitation and making Dr. Seuss hats and door decorations.
During the day, principal Beverly Chapin presented a challenge: "If the class reads three books, then each student in the class will receive a certificate from Texas Roadhouse for a free kid's meal."
The teachers, staff and organizations that organized Eastside's Read Across America were Cindy Kinner, Tina Lemire, Phyllis Rexroad, Kelly Slaga, Jennifer Sisco, Debbie Spitler, Beth Zacharias, Hernando County Teacher's Association, Reading Leadership Team and the Eastside custodial crew.
Maylene Medina, 9, seemed to have gotten the message. "Sometimes when I come home, I can read more to my brother and he learns, too," she said. "And there's lots of ways to love reading."