June 4, 2016


Students ready for ‘reading while cycling’

StopBob Ellis/staff photographer
Groton Elementary School fourth-grader Tanner Brown washes the hood of a sport utility vehicle with the help of classmates Ellie Dykeman, center, and Isabella Harriot during a fundraiser at the school Friday afternoon.

Staff Reporter

GROTON — About five cars at a time lined the Groton Elementary School parking lot Friday afternoon, with more than 30 fourth-graders of the school washing them with soapy sponges and spraying them with hoses.
“Keep scrubbing, keep scrubbing,” Groton Elementary fourth-grade teacher Johnny D’Antonio continuously yelled to keep the rambunctious students in line.
It was all part of an initiative to raise money for a Ride-and-Read program at the elementary school. The program, first instituted in a school in North Carolina, has students riding stationary exercise bikes while reading, D’Antonio said.
D’Antonio read an article on the program and thought it would be a good fit for his students, as he likes active learning. When he found out his students also liked the idea, he began the process of instituting it in the school.
First, D’Antonio went to the superintendent of schools and then the elementary school’s principal, who he said both liked the idea. Then together with his students he worked on drafting a letter about the idea and presented it to the Board of Education.
The board approved the fundraiser to purchase stationary bikes, and three of the board members even donated an exercise bike after his presentation.
His goal is to acquire at least 20 bikes and put them in a designated room in the elementary school for the whole school to use.
“It can help make the school a better place” D’Antonio said. “Hopefully it will encourage kids to read more and make reading fun.”
From noon to 3 p.m. Friday, the entire fourth-grade Groton Elementary School class worked to collect donations for the initiative. Most of the students participated in the car wash, while the rest sold art work, lemonade and baked goods.
“Very busy,” was one of the only phrases D’Antonio had time to get out Friday afternoon as car after car pulled into the parking lot.
“We’ve had a very good turn out,” said Groton Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Julie Camp, who was also helping with the fundraiser. “The kids have been working hard and we’ve been raising a lot of money.”
There was no set price on the car wash or goods, people were able to donate as much as they wanted. Camp said one person dropped off a gift certificate, which the teachers will hold a raffle for.
Whether they were washing cars or selling goods, a smile was on every fourth-grader’s face.
“I enjoy doing this for the school,” said fourth-grader Madalyn Perkins. “We’re not just doing this for ourselves, we’re doing it for the whole school and future students.”
Fourth-graders Brynn Blase and Tanner Brown, who were part of the car washing team, both said they enjoyed their task and are excited to possibly be able to do the Ride-and-Read program.
But there wasn’t much time to spare, as D’Antonio kept the students focused on the task at hand.
“Be ready, here comes another car,” he said while coaching the lot of buzzing students.


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