Over 50 Lehigh student-athletes made the short trip to Donegan Elementary School on Wednesday for a pep rally to kick off another year of the Reading Rocks program. Run through C.O.A.C.H. (Community Outreach by Athletes who Care about Helping), Lehigh student-athletes make weekly trips to Donegan to read with the youngsters.
“Whenever I come and read to the students at Donegan, it’s such a nice feeling to give back,” said women’s lacrosse senior and co-captain of Student-Athlete Council Alexandra Fitzpatrick. “Going to a school like Lehigh, you’re so privileged to get such a great education and meet and work with incredible people. It’s awesome to be able to give that experience to these students and to show them where hard work and really focusing on your studies can lead. Hopefully we can inspire them to keep working hard in school and really enjoy reading.”
“It was a great turnout today,” said men’s lacrosse senior and member of the SAC committee Harrison Lawrence. “It was the biggest group we’ve had so far. It’s great when the kids are excited, come in screaming and get excited about reading. It’s always good to give back to the community, especially when you’re living here nine months out of the year.”
New this year, the student-athletes will spend a full hour reading with the youngsters on each of the first three Wednesdays every month, while the final Wednesday will consist of playing games. Since the program began, the school’s PSSA scores (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) have increased greatly.
“It’s taken on a life of its own and has been awesome to see how many kids that participate,” said Lawrence. “Every year that we can add on more kids and more student-athletes helping out is great for the school.”
Lehigh seniors Nigel Muhammad (football) and Paul Ciavardelli (track and field) serve as the leaders for the Reading Rocks program.
“It was awesome to see how excited the youngsters were to see all the student-athletes,” said Fitzpatrick. “That same excitement and enthusiasm carries over to each Reading Rocks event that we have. Every Wednesday when we show up, there’s always that enthusiasm.
“Whether it’s the small teams like women’s tennis or basketball, or even the large teams like our men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, they’re all so excited and they really want to learn which gets our student-athletes pumped up.”