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Community Raises $10,000 for Reading Challenge

Ann Marie Gilligan, a third-grade teacher at Traphagen Elementary School, read to book fair attendees.
Ann Marie Gilligan, a third-grade teacher at Traphagen Elementary School, read to book fair attendees. Photo Credit: Contributed
A combined string ensemble from Lincoln and Pennington elementary schools performed at the book fair.
A combined string ensemble from Lincoln and Pennington elementary schools performed at the book fair. Photo Credit: Contributed

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - Both a book fair and fundraiser were held at Barnes & Noble of Eastchester this month, generating $10,202.14 for the Superintendent’s Reading Challenge of the Mount Vernon City School District.

"The school district has an outstanding partner in Barnes & Noble of Eastchester for the Superintendent’s Reading Challenge Fundraiser,” said Board of Education Trustee Darcy Miller. “This tremendous level of support from both Barnes & Noble and the people living and working in the Mount Vernon community provides important incentives and resources to children to keep them reading and growing as students. We are very thankful for everyone’s support.”

The book fair, held Saturday, March 11, included performances by a combined string ensemble from Lincoln and Pennington elementary schools, the Traphagen Elementary School Choir, the Edward Williams Choir and a reading of "Jim Rat" from author Ann Marie Gilligan, a third-grade teacher at Traphagen Elementary School.

Shoppers also had their pictures taken with Curious George and OLI the Octopus, the school district’s reading mascot.

AnneMaria Young-Gray attended the book fair with her son, Antony Gray, a member of the Pennington Elementary School Orchestra and the string ensemble.

“We came to support the Superintendent’s Reading Challenge,” Young-Gray said. “As a member of the orchestra, Antony was asked to perform so I came to support him too.” Antony participated in last year’s reading challenge and – as a third-grader – read more than 100 books, according to a release from the Mount Vernon City School District.

About 70 people came out to support a second fundraiser held Monday, March 13. Attendees enjoyed hors d’oeuvres while bidding on a variety of donated silent auction baskets.

“The partnership with the Mount Vernon City School District embodies the core values of Barnes & Noble – community outreach and literacy,” said store manager Kathie Bannon. “We have been thrilled to be involved in what has been a successful book fair and fundraiser.”

Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton said the money raised will cover the cost of hundreds of nooks to be distributed to students at the end of the school year.

“Technology creates an opportunity for students to expand their reading experience,” said Hamilton. “Using their nooks, students can interact with their peers, with other cultures, and even in other languages.”

The Superintendent’s Reading Challenge aims to increase literacy by creating a passion for reading in young people through a variety of fun activities, according to the release. More than 70,000 books have been read by students since the start of this school year, the release said.

A final celebration of the effort, the Reading Challenge Carnival, will be held in June.

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