Monday, December 17, 2001

Athletes give book training

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor


        MONROE — Fifth-graders in Susan Freund's class sat quietly on the floor, leaning forward as 17-year-old Megan Morgan began reading The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.

        For nearly 30 minutes, the only sound was that of Megan's voice or the turning of pages.

        She read to the class as part of the Roundball Awards Reading Program, a volunteer activity started this month by Tim Kellis, Lemon-Monroe High School's varsity basketball coach.

        Every other week, girls and boys varsity basketball players are released from school 15 minutes early so they can go to Monroe Elementary and read a book of the teacher's choosing to students in grades 1-6. The books are either holiday or curriculum-related, said Patti Shull, Monroe Elementary School principal.

        About 25 students have volunteered to read during December and January.

        “I thought it was pretty fun because when she talked, she talked like how the people (in the story) would talk,” said Bradley Robinson, 10. “She wasn't nervous.”

        Megan said she felt comfortable in the classroom even though she didn't know what book she would be reading to the students until she arrived.

        “I want to be a teacher. So I acted like I was their teacher,” said Megan, a senior. “I'm used to reading to my younger (siblings).”

        Mrs. Shull said the high school students serve as role models and talk about the importance of reading. When the elementary students read on their own, they earn coupons good for concession stand items at the high school.

        The boy and girl who have read the most books during the program will earn a spot on the bench during one of the varsity boys and girls basketball games in late January or early February.

        “We decided to do this to help the elementary school kids become good students so they'd get good grades,” said Missy Miller, 18, adding: “If they don't, they won't be eligible (for sports).”


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