The halls of Southmoreland Primary Center were cluttered with excited children, their families, and high school volunteers. The school was holding its annual Southmoreland Reading Night, the night to celebrate Read Across America day. High school students, previous teachers, and current teachers volunteered at the event to help show young children what reading is all about.
The reading night gives the upcoming kindergarten kids the chance to have a fun experience before their kindergarten year begins, but the current kindergarten and first grade classes were also invited.
“It is a night for the entire community to come together to celebrate and support reading and learning,” said Reading Specialist, Patty Debiasio.
Reading Night is how Southmoreland celebrates Read Across America Day in March, and the event shows the relationship between the Primary Center and the High School. When the children attend, they take a reading pledge, get to listen to multiple instructors read a book, and even get free books to take home.
There has been a Reading Night held at the Primary Center for several years, but about four years ago a high school teacher changed the event. Mrs. Jenna Hixson, a high school English teacher, started Reading Buddies. Every Friday, students go to the primary center and read to the students or do an activity with them. The club also began to play a fairly big role in Reading Night.
“I love Reading Night because it is all of my favorite things put together: reading, family, and the community,” said Mrs. Hixson.
The event has evolved over the years a lot and continues to grow. Every year, more and more of the community and high school students attend. This year there was increased attendance because they invited the first graders.
Mrs. Hixson said she loves the atmosphere throughout the event. “I love seeing the children running around excited to see the next reader with a mouth full of cookies and their faces painted.
“It’s amazing to see young children excited without a video game in sight,” Mrs. Hixson continued.
Mrs. Hixson was “very ecstatic” about several other things related to the Reading Night and Reading Buddies program this year. One of them being that she got to see the High School Reading Buddies read the book that the members of her club published; the other one was that she got to take her son, Reed, this year and make memories with him.
“I was excited because I got to spend a family night with the community with my son there,” said Mrs. Hixson.
Around 50 high school students volunteered at the event this year. Some dressed up as different characters, some did face painting, a couple students had activities for the kids, but one student in particular did it to spend time with the kids, help them, and prepare for her future. Morgan Conty, sophomore, has a goal to be a pediatrician. Conty and her sister, Bri, did a “Don’t be Afraid of the Doctor” themed room.
For the night, Morgan Conty read a Doc Mcstuffins book and did different activities with the kids. For the younger kids, she taught them how to give shots with fake, toy syringes and put bandaids on other children. The older children put red paint in their syringes and used them to paint their names onto napkins.
“It was a really fun experience, and I’m really glad I got to have this experience with the kids,” said Morgan Conty.
Southmoreland senior Sam Gray also made a great contribution at the Reading Night. Gray ran a table where the kids came up with ideas and drew what they want Scottie to do in the next book by the Reading Buddies Book Team. Gray believes that it’s a great way for the primary center to reach out to families and show the love of reading because she wants to “impact the education of the future for the better.”
“I love working with the reading buddy teens and the kids,” said Gray. “It makes my day a little brighter.”
Mrs. Hixson said Reading Night “will continue to be a very special night for the Southmoreland School District for many years to come.”