Early Bird Tennis
What are you doing at 7 a.m.? For Reading students involved in the Early Bird Tennis program, they are at school, ready to start another match before the first bell rings. “Think about it, these kids are getting up at 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. to get to Early Bird Tennis on time,” says Coach Larry Zerbe, a Reading High School graduate who oversees COR Tennis. “At Northwest Middle, there are so many mornings when the kids are there waiting for us when we arrive. That is how excited they are to play.”
Early Bird Tennis is one component of the COR Tennis Program and is supported by the Reading Recreation Commission, which is partially funded by the school district. With help from RSD gym teachers and community volunteers, the program is currently held at seven schools: Northwest Area Elementary, 13th and Green Elementary, Riverside Elementary, Tyson-Schoener Elementary, 10th and Penn Elementary, Northwest Middle and Northeast Middle. Millmont Elementary has an after-school tennis program. Team playoffs typically begin in late February each year, with a city tennis champion crowned in early March.
In addition to introducing tennis to students at an early age, the program helps to build an athletic pipeline to the Reading High School varsity and junior varsity tennis teams. “The energy in the elementary and middle schools is amazing. These teachers and kids are awesome,” Zerbe says. “It’s a really big collaboration, and it’s really neat to see.” The community and local businesses, such as Fromuth, have supported Early Bird Tennis by providing supplies, including new tennis rackets.
Students pay a $30 participant fee, which includes a T-shirt and tennis racket. For those students who cannot afford the fee, Zerbe accepts sponsorships. To sponsor a student or learn more about the program, contact Zerbe at the Reading Recreation Commission at 610-655-6201.
Tyson-Schoener Latin Dance Club
Parent Outreach Assistant Onerys Encarnacion is using music and traditional Spanish dance as a way to connect with students and families at Tyson-Schoener Elementary. Through her new Latin Dance Club, students are learning about their culture, developing partnership skills and gaining confidence.
Encarnacion choreographs the dances for the 16 club members, and she makes their elaborate outfits by hand. She crafted the girls’ flowing skirts out of sheets. “This was something that I wanted to do for my Tyson kids,” she says.
The club members, who practice after school, recently performed for their parents, and they will next perform during the school’s winter concert on December 18, says Assistant Principal Samantha Frees.
“The students are really enjoying the program and learning about traditional Spanish dances and customs,” Frees says. “The students are always laughing and smiling and know that they must work hard in school to continue to be in the dance club.”
Riverside Elementary Snapology Club
Snapology Club at Riverside Elementary is overseen by teachers Emily Puwalski and Eric Garcia, who are both Reading High School graduates, and Melissa Eggert, the district's Literacy Professional Development Facilitator who was previously a longtime teacher at the school. With their guidance, students use Lego-based projects to help students build their knowledge and connect with the STEM field.
At Snapology Club, held after school, students work on a brief lesson and then begin a Lego robotics build project from the LEGO Education We Do 2.0 kits. Once they complete their build project, they are able to connect it via Bluetooth and program it to move, spin, make noises, light up, and so many more cool things. Each group gets a tablet to use to program their build.
Through the hands-on project, students, who work with their peers to complete each task, learn about perseverance, teamwork and assorted science and engineering concepts, such as levers, gears, axels/wheels, and sensors.
“The students especially love playing with the finished project,” Puwalski says. “We’ve built a car, helicopter, space rover, robopup, spider, bridge, gator, windmill, catapult and more. They love programming, and it’s really cool to see them figure it out on their own as they work with their peers.”
RHS Poetry Out Loud
Poetry Out Loud (POL), a recitation program, was created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Reading School District students have participated in POL since 2006 after teacher Janet King, now retired, learned about the program.Every winter, more than 400 Reading High School students participate in Poetry Out Loud at the classroom level, choosing poems from an online anthology of more than 900 poems, memorizing them, and then refining their recitations for the classroom competitions. The classroom winners then go on to compete in the school-wide competition. That winner then goes on to represent RHS at the regional competition, and the regional winner goes to Harrisburg to compete for the State title and a trip to Washington, D.C. for the national competition.“We have won our regional competition and gone on to the State competition 10 out of the 12 years that we have participated in the program,” says RHS English teacher Paige Sechler. “Also, in the 13 years of POL, Pennsylvania has only had three students appear in the National Finals — two of whom, DeVonna Smith and Daphnee McMaster, were Red Knights. DeVonna placed third in the National Competition — Pennsylvania’s highest finish to date.”The next round of Poetry Out Loud will begin on December 12, 2018 with the school-wide competition. The event is open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. in the RHS auditorium. #RSDproud #RSDCoolClubs