By Aiden Wacksman
Since its emergence, the coronavirus has impacted schools across the United States. Students and faculty are required to wear masks, social distance, and uphold other safety procedures. These, however, were not the only subjects of change due to COVID-19. Graduation requirements for high school students such as service hours are now much more difficult to obtain, as opportunities are few and far between.
Luckily, at Oak Hall School, Media Specialist Evelyn Smith and junior Alison Rubin created the Read Aloud program to assist Upper School (US) students in obtaining volunteer hours. They can record themselves reading a picture book or a chapter of an age-appropriate novel, and then send it to Smith or Rubin via Microsoft Teams. The recordings are then shared with older Lower School (LS) and Middle School (MS) students.
“I love the magic that happens when people read aloud to a captivated audience”Evelyn Smith, Oak Hall Media Specialist
“The program exists thanks to Alison Rubin,” Smith explained. While the junior keeps track of volunteer hours earned by students who are members of the National Honor Society, Smith logs hours earned by other US students. Each “read aloud” can earn a minimum of one hour of service, but Smith explained that the majority of submissions have earned more than the hour minimum.
Smith and Rubin started the Read Aloud Program not only to offer an opportunity for US students to earn volunteer hours, but also to promote literacy and a sense of communication between the LS, MS, and US.
Smith hopes that this program will bring a sense of nostalgia to US students who contribute their recordings and believes that the program can benefit younger students in various ways as well. “It models the behavior we would like to see in our children and students,” she explained. She added that programs like these can promote the value of reading. “Reading aloud in middle school classes can also reinforce language arts instruction and comprehension, especially when students read along in their own books,” she said.
In the end, the Read Aloud program allows US students to earn volunteer hours and enhances the literacy of younger students.
For additional information, students can visit the US/MS Oak Hall Student Library Resources Team.