'Night Under the Lights' creates 'positive literacy environment'

Cary Ashby • Oct 25, 2019 at 12:00 PM

MONROEVILLE —  A windy and chilly night didn’t keep the Monroeville faithful from the school’s first Title I literacy night at Marsh Field.

“Night Under the Lights - Soar into Reading” celebrated literacy on Tuesday. Kari Pisano, Monroeville Local Schools librarian, and Title I teacher Stephanie Houser coordinated the first-time event, based on a similar one by Edison Local Schools.

“It started with an idea that Edison had. … We built off of that, going out into the community looking for support. It was really positively received,” Pisano said.

As of Monday, 150 students had turned in reservations for “Night Under the Lights” and there was about $1,500 in total donations, Houser told the school board. During the same meeting, the board accepted more than $800 in donations from various businesses and individuals.

“This means so much to us in so many ways. We can feel and sense the support of the community and all the stakeholders we have for our students here in Monroeville,” Pisano said. “We are very excited and we just look for a positive literacy environment for the kids so they can succeed.”

Scattered around Marsh Field were literacy stations. Police officers, community members, students, educators and board member Melissa Allen agreed to be readers. Therapy dogs from the Paws Up program through Stein Hospice also were there.

Food trucks from Gordos Southwest Grill and Kona Ice were in the parking lot. Pisano and Houser said four vendors agreed to turn in 20 percent of their earnings at the event as donations for the district literacy fund.

Third-grade student Celia Canpagna was at “Night Under the Lights” with her family. She said she enjoys reading and estimated she reads about two books per week.

“I think it’s neat. People who like to read should read,” said the daughter of Joe and Becca, referring to the event.

Last year, her second-grade teacher, Monica Fondriest, inspired her to dive into more books.

“She read us good books. That made me want to read more books by myself,” said the 8-year-old girl who is in Maureen Dreschel’s class currently.


‘Reading is huge’

Cori Schafer is the mother of four children in the district — Kenley, 9; Raegan, 7; Kiptyn, 5; and Rhett, 4.

“I think reading is huge. We have always emphasized reading in our household because, in my opinion, if a child can’t read, they can’t do the math, the science (and) the social studies to go with it. … Having an event like this shows them the fun aspects of reading,” she said.

Schafer said she enjoyed seeing community members supporting literacy and knowing there is a “community book” that everyone can share. 

“It warms my heart,” she said. “What I love is it’s not just a Monroeville public school event; the entire community of Monroeville is here — the St. Joseph kids, the Monroeville kids. I have seen a couple Norwalk kids because their moms or dads are teachers at Monroeville. It’s been really cool.”

Each child received a free copy of the picture book “What Do You Do With a Chance?” by Kobi Yamada. Sandy Lonz read it to the group at the 50-yard line.

“I can’t wait to go home and re-read it to the kids, so that they can fully understand that you are given chances. You are given chances each and every day and you have to take them and make the most of them because if you don’t, they could just pass you by. I try to teach the kids (to) take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. Now is the age for them to learn it,” Schafer said.

Pisano, addressing the families gathered at midfield, said hopefully when they are at various Monroeville businesses, they will a “catch a glimpse” of the book and remind them it’s something the community shares. 

The book was “generously gifted by donations from our community families and businesses,” according to a district announcement about “Night Under the Lights.”


Promoting a ‘reading culture’

Pisano said she hopes it means a lot to the students to see the various school and community members supporting literacy.

“That’s what it’s all about for us — just showing the kids that we are here for them. We just want the best for them,” the district librarian added.

Monroeville Mayor Melissa Fries-Seip was one of the readers.

“It is good to get the kids excited about reading,” she said. “We are trying to adopt this love of reading (and) have a reading culture in the school. This is a good step towards that.”

Fries-Seip, who also teaches kindergarten in Monroeville, said the event was about “showing support of the school and this love of being a lifetime learner.”

“It’s a beautiful night in Monroeville under the lights on the football field. It doesn’t get much better for the Monroeville faithful; you’re right. I think that was a draw for some of the kids to come out and actually be on the field and enjoy this event,” she said.

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