“Readers are Leaders” challenges fourth grade classes in Staten Island’s public, parochial and private schools to read a minimum of six books at grade level or above during a five-week period. Students will then submit a report on their favorite book that they read during the period. Each school will pick one “Exceptional Reader” to receive an award at a ceremony in May.
Borough President Oddo continues the tradition of his predecessor, Borough President James P. Molinaro, who ran the program for five years after taking it over from then-Congressman Vito Fossella. “It’s a privilege to be able to continue this wonderful program,” Oddo said, clutching two books – one of his favorites and one he is in the midst of reading now. Since its inception in 1996, fourth graders have read more than 500,000 books for the annual challenge, which yields 22 billion words, Oddo said.
“Every time you open a book, it takes you to a faraway place; every time you open a book, you have fun; every time you open a book, you learn something new,” noted Oddo, speaking from the auditorium’s stage to the fourth graders in attendance. PS 30 is one of 60 schools participating in this year’s challenge.
Joining the Borough President for the kickoff was Vito Fossella and Harold Wagner, Executive Director of CTV, who is sponsoring the awards ceremony. CTV recorded the kick off and will air it on television.
“You can be anything you want to be in life. Work hard, follow your dream,” said Fossella. “You can be a leader and the best way … to put you on that path is to read.” Fossella noted that he began the program because he understood the challenge that teachers and parents had in getting kids to read and he wanted to make it fun.
Oddo thanked the teachers and students for their participation and closed the kickoff with a special message. He encouraged all of the students to participate in Rare and Genetic Disease Awareness, which is being championed at their school by 10-year-old Meghan Ortega. Meghan, who sat with the Borough President before the event, told Oddo about her challenges with Cowden’s Syndrome and educated him on the disease. “I’m inspired by my friend Meghan,” he said, donning the denim ribbon she gave him for the cause. “You are an inspiration to me and to your classmates.”