DEAR Panthers! Drop Everything and Read!

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” -Kate DiCamillo (American writer and author of Because of Winn Dixie)

We are excited to announce that Catholic High School is implementing a school-wide silent sustained independent reading period titled DEAR, Panthers–Drop Everything and Read! 

As one of our Cognia reaccreditation Action Plan strategies, beginning Monday, August 21 and on each regular schedule day, we have built in a 10 minute time slot at the end of 2nd period where the entire school will drop everything and read. In today’s busy world, it is harder and harder to find time to dedicate to this essential skill; therefore, these 10 minutes will provide a gift of valuable, dedicated, quiet time of uninterrupted reading for students and adults alike.     

The benefits of an independent reading program such as this are many. Although we hope to see improvement in standardized test scores, the purpose of this initiative goes way beyond a number or a test score. These few minutes have the opportunity to expand students’ knowledge of various topics, authors, and genres and enhance their concentration and focus. Students will be able to set reading goals and select books that interest them, both focuses of our Action Plan. The program is a wonderful way for students to have a choice and tap into their own interests while at school. We often forget the social nature of reading, and students will be able to share with their 2nd period teachers and classmates what they are reading. Reading can have a positive impact on a student’s entire academic performance and help to forge teacher/student relationships. Lastly, we hope the program can spark a lifelong love and appreciation for reading in students that continues long after they graduate from CHS.

We encourage parents to help students select their books for this period and remind students to always have their reading material with them. Teachers will go over how the time will run, and there are a few rules that they will review with their classes. For now, we are asking students to only bring in hard copies of their reading choices, no Kindles or eReader devices. Although students can select their books, these must comply with Catholic teachings and must be suitable for a Catholic school classroom. Teachers will begin to compile mini libraries to provide reading materials in case students forget their books or they finish early. Students can also visit the school library before or after school to check out a stash of books they would like to read. 

It will be hard at first! It will be a challenge to get our 620+ students and 60+ educators all reading at the same time! Students will not be going to the office, restroom, or locker, nor will they be chatting with friends at this time. There may even be a few “fake readers” out there at first. Teachers themselves will be challenged to place those papers that need grading away and out of sight! As with all new initiatives, tweaks might need to be made as we go through the year. 

We thank you in advance for your support and assistance with our new endeavor. We look forward to taking a breath, unplugging, and spending time with a good book.