Central Unified School District’s Athletes as Readers and Leaders program celebrated its 10-year anniversary Friday.
Current participants read to Steinbeck Elementary students, then joined a reunion with Athletes as Readers and Leaders alumni.
Central Unified says its Athletes as Readers and Leaders program is a group of 100 Central High student-athletes who read books to elementary students and engage them in conversations about making healthy choices. Students from football and volleyball to folkloric dance and everything in between participate.
According to a news release from the district, Central High teacher-librarian Janet Wile started the program 10 years ago with seven football players. Her desire was to have high school students learn to become active in their community and mentor younger students. Every year since, interested student-athletes receive training on how to read to and actively engage their elementary listeners. More than 35,000 students have been read to by high school students in the program and some of those elementary students joined the program when they entered high school. Since its inception, the program has received several awards, including the Golden Bell granted by the school board and the Good Ideas Award by the California School Library Association.