ASU’s Read and Rise Celebrates 10 Years

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By Lois G. Russell

 Alabama State University celebrated the 10th anniversary of sponsoring its annual Read and Ride initiative with a nationwide virtual event on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

 Read and Rise is one of the featured events of the University’s Founders’ Week calendar.

 The event is usually held in schools in the Montgomery area, offering opportunities for ASU employees, students and alumni to read to elementary school students.

 “Of course, with COVID-19 we had to be a bit more creative in our approach to this year‘s Read and Rise,” said Kenneth Waters, ASU’s CommUniversity/Marketing and Communications Coordinator. “We were able to offer the initiative in a virtual format. The added benefit is that we were able to reach a broader audience. We had viewers from schools across the country.”

 Young scholars and students joined in from other states, including Texas, Maryland, Illinois, Missouri, Florida, Georgia and California.

 A number of teachers who took part in the Zoom Read and Rise were excited ASU alumni who praised the University for hosting the event.

 “I just wanted you to know that I am an ASU alumna and I am an ASU fan,” said Gail Daniels, a teacher at Resurrection Catholic School. “I have 14 students in my classroom, for face-to-face (instruction), and we are excited about this.”

 President Quinton T. Ross Jr. led the volunteers from ASU who participated in the live event.

“I want to encourage all of you to read as much as you can,” Ross said before reading a classic by Dr. Seuss. “Not only will you learn a lot, but reading can also be a lot of fun. As a former teacher, I can tell you that If you learn to read well, it will help you in all of your subjects in school.”

Other guest readers were SGA President David Hammond; Dr. Michelle Samuel-Foo, Assistant Professor of Biology; Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Carl Pettis; and Yasmine Whitehurt, the reigning Miss Alabama State University. Alumnus Darren Dubose (’15) also spoke to the young learners about his experiences as a Read and Rise volunteer when he was SGA President at ASU.

 “I love the fact that Alabama State University offers this kind of engagement for students at the elementary level,” said Hammond. “It gives us the opportunity to encourage them to read and to work hard in school. We understand that many students, even younger students, are finding that learning can be difficult during this current pandemic. We want to do our part to encourage them to try to focus on their studies.”

The virtual event lasted for nearly several hours throughout the day with volunteers reading during specific timeslots. Some of the sessions received nearly 2,000 views on Facebook during the early hours. Waters says more than 500 students and teachers signed up to be part of the live broadcast on Zoom.

 “The response has actually been overwhelming. We are considering doing at least one more Read and Rise before the end of the year. This is an example of CommUniversity at its best,” Waters added.