St. Joseph School (Penfield) students celebrate the love of reading with an annual spring event, called DEAR – Drop Everything And Read. Over the years, the program has evolved and changed, with new approaches integrated by the facilitators of the event. Drop Everything And Read means simply that! Every day, for three weeks, students are asked to always carry a book with them, and throughout each day at different times, students are invited to stop their current activity to take some time to read.
On occasion, the entire school will read the same book, with schoolwide themes and projects implemented over the three week long celebration. Sometimes, the school issues a challenge to its students to read a certain number of books in a designated period of time. On other occasions, several grades work together to read and discuss a common book, focusing on topics such as theme, character development, and narrator point of view.
Common to every year of DEAR, students are paired up to form reading teams. These reading buddies are often selected to pair a younger student with an upper grade student, creating a mentoring relationship that surpasses the reading project and lasts well into the future.
This year, the fifth grade welcomed New York State Senator Joseph Robach, to read a story aloud in their class. Senator Robach is a member of the standing committee on Education at the State Senate level.
Students within each grade level are encouraged to make an effort to read, and experience the many advantages that reading offers. Literacy is a high priority at SJS. It’s not unusual for a Kindergarten student at SJS to finish the year, reading at a first grade level or beyond.