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Naugatuck’s Read Across America Day Cements Community Ties

Kellie Pelletier's second grade class at Western Elementary School in Naugutuck listen attentively to high school students Schaefer and Mike Zamani.

Kellie Pelletier’s second grade class at Western Elementary School in Naugatuck listens attentively to high school students Courtney Schaefer and Mike Zamani.

In Naugatuck, Read Across America Day not only fosters children’s love of reading, it’s also a day to strengthen relationships and ties between students and schools. High school students gave their time this morning to be role models to younger students by reading to classes at Western Elementary School — some of them reading to a younger sibling, or reconnecting with a former teacher.

The 28 Naugatuck High School students who ventured out into below-freezing temperatures and climbed the hill to the neighboring elementary school were all volunteers who had sought out the opportunity to give back.

Naugatuck High School teacher Melissa McInvale leads high school students up to neighboring Western Elementary School.

Naugatuck High School teacher Melissa McInvale leads high school students carrying their read aloud books up to neighboring Western Elementary School.

Naugatuck High School technology and communications teacher Melissa McInvale was one of the educators who coordinated the event. She said, “As soon as students heard we were organizing this, many of them started asking, ‘Can I go?'”

Co-organizer George Macary, Naugatuck Teachers’ League president, said, “This is all about the students.” He said that both high school and elementary school students looked forward to the read aloud and got a lot out of the event. “If they didn’t want to be doing it, we wouldn’t do it,” he said.

High school students (from left) Yailyn Nieto, Yntza Morales, and Megan Warnka ask Whitney Goodin's kindergarten class to vote on which book they'd like to read.

High school students (from left) Yaliyn Nieto, Yaritza Morales, and Megan Warnke ask Whittney Godin’s kindergarten class to vote on which book they’d like to read.

Macary added, “Reading to the younger students makes the high schoolers feel valued — it’s something they sometimes lack.” He said it’s especially rewarding for students who themselves attended Western. “Seeing their former teachers and hearing them say nice things, having the teachers see how they’ve grown up — it really means a lot to the students.”

Eleventh grader Lindsey Thoren, who read to Stephanie Colella’s third grade class, said she chose to read today because, “I wanted to give back. I get along well with kids.”

Kellie Pelletier’s second grade class listened attentively as Courtney Schaefer and Mike Zamani read them Snowmen at Night and Green Eggs and Ham. “The class loves anything like this,” Pelletier said. “We have a good relationship with the kids at the high school, and it’s always a good experience when they come in.”

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