Roanoke College, NCAA hosts ‘Readers Become Leaders’ rally for local third-grade students

Photo courtesy of Roanoke College
Roanoke College basketball players greeting pupils as they arrive on campus.

Third-graders from East Salem, South Salem, West Salem and GW Carver Elementary Schools participated in a Readers Become Leaders rally on Tuesday, January 8, hosted by the NCAA and Roanoke College.

When the students entered the Cregger Center, they ran through a human tunnel that was comprised of Roanoke College student-athletes, mascots, cheerleaders and members of the Pride of Salem Marching Band.

The reading initiative targets students and provides them with incentives to increase their reading proficiency. The program also provides pupils with activities that encourage them to maintain grade-appropriate reading levels.

Clay Nunley is the Roanoke College head men’s basketball coach. Throughout the day his players joked around with the students, answered their questions and participated in various fun activities. Other Roanoke College athletes did the same.

“Growing up, reading was regularly emphasized in my school and home,” Coach Nunley said. “Readers Become Leaders is a great opportunity to emphasize reading and learning in a fun environment. The players had fun interacting with the students and vice versa.”

Chris Kilcoyne believes that the earlier a child is encouraged to read, the stronger their confidence foundation is likely to be. Kilcoyne, the Roanoke College Director of Athletics, helped put together a video of the men and women basketball players reading the popular Dr. Seuss book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

“The kids were great and appeared to have really enjoyed themselves,” Kilcoyne said. “They received a talk from our women’s basketball coach Carla Flaherty, and the Salem boys head basketball coach on the importance of reading.”

Before the day concluded, the students pledged to read at least 30-minutes a day. Once that goal is accomplished, they will earn a free ticket to the NCAA Division lll Final Four this March at the Salem Civic Center.

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