WEF ‘Reading Rocks!’ Fundraiser Nets $35,000

Miller-Driscoll and Cider Mill students have made it official–Reading Rocks! for sure, judging by the read-a-thon program’s success this year both encouraging children in grades K-5 to read and raising money for Wilton schools. The program netted more than $35,000 for the Wilton Education Foundation (WEF), which in turn benefits the Wilton public schools.

“Reading Rocks!” is an initiative to encourage children to have fun while reading in a non-competitive manner, while raising money for WEF in the process.

There was a strong show of support for the program in its third year, with over 1,100 students participating during two weeks in February. More than 70 percent of the first grade class joined in on the fun.   

“Reading Rocks is such a fantastic program. In our case it inspired a reluctant reader to grab extra books each day because there was a chance to win really cool prizes. Thank you WEF for providing the motivation he needed to delve into those books!” said Kathleen Royle, a parent of a Miller-Driscoll School student.

Dr. Jennifer Mitchell, principal at Cider Mill, shared, “This year is my first experience with ‘Reading Rocks!’ and it was amazing to watch the children get excited about participating. This program really sets the stage for a lifelong love of reading.”  

The students also had fun celebrating “Dress Like a Rock Star Day” to generate excitement about bringing in donations. Julie Steckel, WEF board member and “Reading Rocks!” chair, visited both schools and said, “It was fun to watch the students rushing into school dressed as rock stars while enthusiastically exclaiming, ‘Reading Rocks!’ I heard them say, ‘Reading Rocks is back–I love that program!’ While ‘Reading Rocks!’ is WEF’s largest fundraiser, if the message that ‘Reading Rocks!’ resonates with even one child, then this program truly is a success.”

Incentives were offered at each school by grade (in Miller-Dricscoll) and house (in Cider Mill) based on the percentage of involvement.  First Grade came out on top at M-D so they will get an extra recess; Cannondale won in Cider Mill and earned a homework-free day. In addition, several prizes were awarded to participants whose names were randomly-drawn: one iPad Mini was given away across grades K-5, and one Kindle E-reader was awarded per grade at Miller-Driscoll and per house at Cider Mill. The winner of the iPad Mini was second grader Cameron Royle. The winners of the Kindle E-reader from Miller-Driscoll were Sophie Hall, Grace Todd and Madison Gillespie. Cider Mill Kindle E-reader winners were R.J. Bartels, Alex Cocoros, Ava Geller and Georgia Russnok.  Congratulations to all of the winners!

As a thank you to classroom teachers for their time and enthusiastic support of ‘Reading Rocks!’ each teacher whose class participated received a chance to win a gift card. The winners were:  Kindergarten: $50 Pam Sullivan, $25 Cindy Lyons; First Grade: $50 Jeanine Hussey, $25 Laura Connell; Second Grade: $50 Joseph Scholz, $25 Mary McGann; Belden Hill: $50 Kyle Shouvlin, $25 Sara Spranzman ;  Cannondale: $50 Jason Greasley, $25 Kathleen Dohn; Kent: $50 Julie Wojciechowski, $25 Jennifer O’Brien; Nod Hill: $50 Eric Rome, $25 Sara Duncan. Congratulations to the winning teachers!

According to WEF, “Reading Rocks!” has raised more than $110,000 over the past three years. Additionally, more than 1,100 students have participated in every one of those three years.  “That amounts to a lot of students reading more because they want to embrace literacy and help their schools.  That is the true success of the program,” Steckel said.

She emphasized that she was grateful for the team of volunteers who helped organize the program. “They do everything from counting up the thousands of pledges that come in to tallying the boards around the schools. There is no way we’d hit such a high goal without the help of Laura Martins, Kathy Cureau, Claire Nichols, Amy Kesselman, Claire Hinck, Dawn Jasinski, Jackie Guglielmo, and Nicole Thornbrough.  These volunteers take time out of work and busy lives to count every dollar and check that comes in. I hope Wilton is as grateful to them as I am.”