Close to 70 guest readers gathered at Chevy Chase’s Rock Creek Forest Elementary School Thursday morning to read and to emphasize the importance of reading to some of the school’s 600 students.
The sixth annual “Reading Rocks” event began when University of Maryland track coach Andrew Valmon, whose kids go to the school, asked former principal David Chia how his track athletes could volunteer.
Chia came up with the concept of the team members reading to the students, so they could ask college students about their favorite school subjects growing up.
“He asked to please have your student-athletes come to our school and read to our students so they will know there is such a thing as a college student and there is an expectation that they should think, ‘Oh, I can go to college, too,’” said Rock Creek Forest reading specialist Carla Register.
Valmon made the event mandatory and it’s grown. Today, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, County Executive Isiah Leggett, County Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Hans Riemer and Phil Andrews as well as a number of County Board of Education members, parents and former staff took turns reading to students.
“We felt that mixing the athletes with people in the community was a great way to get the kids excited,” Valmon said. “They talk about their experiences growing up and how they read. We felt like this was a way to give back. The parents do so much to keep this going.”
Rock Creek Forest will be moving to the Radnor Center over the summer for a year and a half as the existing building is demolished and rebuilt.
Principal Jennifer Lowndes said the school has a number of students for whom emphasizing the importance of reading is important. The school has an English Academy and Spanish Immersion program.