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Leadership volunteers, March is Reading Month


Photo Credit: Erin Zimlich

For “March is Reading Month” 2024, Howell High School Leadership students worked with “reading buddies” from the local elementary schools. Throughout kindergarten classes, the juniors and seniors in Leadership partnered up and spent time reading with their “buddies” to promote the love of reading. 

“I think it’s going to benefit the community by bringing everyone together and being more inclusive. Just bringing the older and younger kids together and teaching the younger kids,” junior Leadership student Maggie Longthorne says.

Reading buddies have been a tradition in Howell Public Schools during March for two years now. The tradition started in the year 2020 but came to a halt with the pandemic. 

“We did it right before COVID, 2020 was the first year we started it, and then it got canceled because of COVID. Then in 2021, we didn’t do it, and then 2022 was the first year we were able to get back in the classrooms,” Leadership teacher Ms. Gabriella DiNatale says.

Leadership students undergo a selection process after requesting the class to take it. The class is co-taught by Gabriella DiNatale and Aaron Metz. Leadership students set precedents in reading skills for kindergarteners to follow.

“I think this will give the kids critical thinking skills on how to work with an older audience and how to really present themselves,” senior Leadership student Lauren Soderman says.

When spending time at elementary schools with their reading buddies, Leadership students can experience the excitement of being in an elementary classroom from a new perspective. 

“I think that it’s awesome because the little kids are given role models from the teenagers, and then the teenagers get to go back and look at what elementary school was like and kind of remember their past. I really think that the young readers need help as beginner readers, and I think the Leadership kids definitely help that,” Ms. DiNatale says. 

Some students have formed connections with their reading buddies through volunteering, and most elementary students look forward to reading with their older buddies.

“It’s just so much fun to go to the elementary school and see the kids; they’re always so happy. They make everyone else happy, and you can see it. I think it’s going to affect them because I know they’re really happy when we come. You can see it in their faces, a lot of them even say it. I think it just helps them as well, helps them have one-on-one reading too, to help them out more,” junior Leadership student Jordan Meyer says.

The younger students get excited to see their buddies and learn to read with them. Not only is this a class project, but the class recognizes this project contributes to the community and education of the upcoming generations.

“I think it benefits the Howell community because it’s helping like the younger generation of Howell Highlanders read and write better, but it also shows them good traits like going down and helping out other people, even if you’re older than them or you can like or write better than them, it shows them that they should still always go out and help other people. I think that’s just really beneficial for the community here,” Meyer says.

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