Education

‘Celebrities’ read to McSwain Elementary students

CBS 47 morning news anchor Joey Horta, speaks to students about his education and career path during the celebrity readers event at McSwain Elementary on Friday.
CBS 47 morning news anchor Joey Horta, speaks to students about his education and career path during the celebrity readers event at McSwain Elementary on Friday. aibarra@mercedsunstar.com

For students at McSwain Elementary, reading is an adventure that never ends.

However, this past week, students took reading to a new level.

As part of the school’s traditional “Reading is Fun” week, students participated in a read-a-thon fundraiser, reading as many books as they could and collected money from family and friends for each page read.

Collectively, students raised about $14,000 to be used for the school’s library.

To close the book-filled week, students received a visit on Friday from local “celebrities” who read childhood classics. They also shared anecdotes about their educations and careers.

Invited guest readers included: police officers, firefighters, former Major League Baseball players, a news anchor, county employees and local elected officials, among others.

McSwain Elementary School principal Dave Childers said “Reading is Fun” week has been around for many years at the school, but the celebrity readers event is new. The idea, he explained, came from other schools where he worked.

The event is a way to get children excited about books and literature, Childers said, but it also helps bring in key players from the community to visit, share and inspire the K-8 students.

“McSwain is very tight-knit, and we want to build bridges between the community and the school,” he said.

Childers, who became principal last summer, said that gathering volunteers to read and speak to students is not as difficult as it might sound.

“From my experience, people are always happy to come and support our students,” he said.

Nathan Trefault, an eighth-grader and student body president, said he and a group of student leaders planned the celebrity readers event for about two weeks.

“It’s pretty cool because it gathers a lot of successful people from our community,” he said. “We like to read, and this is one way to make it even more fun.”

One of the invited readers was Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke. He spoke to students about making smart life choices and the importance of pursuing careers they are passionate about.

“It’s not always about the money. Do something you’ll really enjoy,” Warnke told students.

Brian Fuentes and Bill Mooneyham, two former pitchers for the A’s and Merced natives, also stopped by McSwain Elementary to read to students and answer questions about their lives as professional baseball players.

Other guests included: sheriff’s Capt. B.J. Jones, District 3 Supervisor Daron McDaniel and Joey Horta, a CBS 47 morning news anchor and McSwain Elementary alumnus.

Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or aibarra@mercedsunstar.com.

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