“Sheep shove, sheep grunt, sheep don’t think to look up front,” proclaimed BMHS Principal Scott Hurwitz.
This intriguing statement was read on Friday, March 1, 2019, at Brookside Elementary School. Students from Brien McMahon High School’s Senior Adolescent Literature class, led by English teacher Dani Brown, trekked up (a largely unshoveled) Highland Avenue to Brookside, in order to partake in the district-wide “Read Across America” event.
This event entailed a high schooler, administrator, or district official reading a noted piece of children’s literature (including the works of Dr. Seuss) to a class of elementary schoolers from Brookside. Notable attendees included Hurwitz, Roton Middle School Principal Joseph Vellucci, Norwalk Chief of School Operations Frank Costanzo, Anthony Allison of Norwalk ACTS and Janine Goss, Norwalk Director of Humanities.
“Today is a day that you can spotlight the great things that actually go on every day here,” says Brookside Principal Sandra Faioes. “So everyday here, we try to get kids excited about reading, everyday we try to have kids apply the skills that we are teaching them in different ways, so today is a culminating event that captures what we try to do here… literacy and promoting literacy is really at the heart of the school, and making reading exciting, just because we know how important being a good reader is, how it ties into being a good writer, and how it is that you rely on those skills when you start getting into complex content areas, when you go to high school.”
The walls and ceiling of the school were lined with colorful decorations. Inspirational posters depicting the likeness of the Cat in the Hat and other noted characters in children’s literature adorned the sides of the library. A copious amount of books were situated on the shelves of the room, while a unique group of students and adults mingled nearby. The atmosphere was cheery, jovial, and positive - which served in stark contrast to the bleak, overcast weather outside.
“I’m kinda happy. Its cool that I am a high school student coming here to read to kids, having a good environment with the children,” said McMahon reader Thaddeus Burrus (‘19).
Following a breakfast in the Brookside library for the readers, the elementary school students were funneled into an assembly with librarian Audra Good, who introduced the readers and PrideTime reporters to the school populace. Afterwards, she announced “Charlotte's Web” as this year’s “One Book for Brookside,” an annual event in which a selected book will be distributed for free to all students. The announcement was met with a very high level of joy and enthusiasm from the elementary schoolers.
“They are so excited, and having that with the One Book kickoff, they looked forward to that reveal today… it’s great,” said Principal Faioes. Roton Middle School Principal Vellucci was similarly impressed. “I just said to the secretary that it's so wonderful to see the kids be so excited about reading, and I’m really more used to the older kids. So it was great to come in and see the enthusiasm for reading.”
After the assembly, the guests were led to their assigned classroom, where they read their piece of literature. “It went really well, the kids enjoyed the book a lot. I think it was because [the book included] dinosaurs, and the dinosaurs were really colorful. They were excited to see pictures,” said Burrus.
Following his reading, Chief of School Operations Frank Costanzo was pleased with the day’s events. “I don’t remember doing it when I was in elementary school, because we don’t celebrate enough in school… it’s good for kids to just have something different, different people speaking to them, reading to them. It’s something we celebrate in Norwalk and will continue to.”
Janine Goss, K-12 Director of Humanities within Norwalk Public Schools, thinks that Read Across America Day is an important event to put on. “It’s very rare that we as a district can all come together because we are such a large district. To come together for one purpose, in something that really matters, and this is something that we all have in common - reading is so important, it’s something that we all love, and that we can help to inspire all of our kids.”