Reading For Graduation Matters

By 
Maddi Gatti And Aubrey Degele
Thursday, December 15, 2022
Aubrey Degele and Alex Tullar circle up with the elementary class they read with on November 17. Courtesy photo

Aubrey Degele and Alex Tullar circle up with the elementary class they read with on November 17. Courtesy photo

Graduation Matters is a program at Laurel High School that emphasizes that the work students do in the building is important. It is important to be a good role model for younger students as well as focusing on their own post-graduation goals. This year the high schoolers went on an adventure to read for the elementary students on November 17th for an early Thanksgiving treat. In the beginning of November, Lori Hodges, the high school’s librarian and Graduation Matters coordinator, sent out an email to all fall and winter season coaches to invite the athletes to help host this event; a couple of weeks later the fun began.

After reading a short book to the kids as they sit and look at the pictures, elementary students are given the opportunity to ask the high schoolers questions and learn more about what high school is like or their specific sport. This is a great way of getting the elementary students excited for their future in high school, and a way for the athletes to give back to all of their little fans who cheer for them at games. Hosting these events allows the older kids and elementary kids to make a connection with each other where the younger ones now have a special bond or person to look forward to at high school games and other big events where the high schoolers are.

Reading to the elementary students is a volunteer activity where the high school kids can choose to go read to the students during their study hall or free periods. The student can then either choose a book to read or have one appointed to them by the younger kids and teacher, which is the fan favorite answer. While reading the book the high schoolers make sure to keep it a very interactive activity by asking questions every so often or even pointing out a certain picture that has caught their attention, this way it keeps the younger students interested. After the reading is over the elementary students get the opportunity to ask the older kids a few questions each. Some of the most popular questions asked are “how old are you,” “what is high school like?”, and “what sport do you play? Is it hard?” Although all of these questions are great, the high school students will also share a little bit more information just so that the kids know what high school and sports are really like, just to show them what is really important when it comes to high school and graduation.

Reading to the elementary school is a small part of the bigger picture for a program called Graduation Matters. Graduation Matters helps students have the best opportunities possible to graduate and participate in activities while in school to make it a fun and safe place.

Before Covid-19 hit the Laurel community, the high school used to send over students 3 times a year to read and share information in regards to what’s happening with the older kids. Unfortunately, with Covid that fun experience for the kids got taken away completely, and then severely cut back. Now that we are back up and running normally, Hodges said she is ready to “get the tie-in back” and getting back into the routine of sending high school students over 3 times a year rather than once. Graduation Matters is a program that helps students make sure that they will have the best resources and help to graduate. With starting the kids at such a young age it ensures to set up a healthy relationship between the students and the school.

Now that the schools are back into the full swing of things with minimal restrictions in regards to Covid-19, events like this can happen a bit more. Seeing the smile and excitement on the kids faces is really all it takes to make a high schooler want to help out. The hugs at the end are just the cake topper of the whole program.

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