University City

Reading program in University City started by Girl Scout needs volunteers

Kelsey Eaves has a love for reading.

As a high school senior, she has observed a need for students to read better at all grade levels. After doing some research, she decided to establish a reading program to help third-graders at Briarwood Academy.

Teachers selected eight students to participate in the program each Friday during the last hour of the school day.

Eaves, a member of Troop 2455 at Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church, started the Reading for the Stars Book Club as part of her project to earn the Girl Scouts Gold Award. She designed the project to last eight weeks, ending with an awards ceremony Jan. 24.

The next goal for Eaves is to meet the Girl Scouts’ sustainability requirement. That means she is now looking for volunteers to take over the program at Briarwood Academy.

She is also open to sharing her project idea with other organizations.

“I loved seeing the children read and learn,” said Eaves. A senior at Rocky River High School, she hopes to major in animation or new media at either N.C. State University or UNC Wilmington.

For her eight-week program, Eaves recruited volunteers to read to the children. She also provided snacks, notebooks, pencils and other supplies from donations she collected.

During one session, Eaves organized a game show related to the content of the books the third-graders read.

Eaves worked with the principal Brenda Steadman and other staff members to establish the program. Davida Campbell, the school’s literacy facilitator for kindergarten through fifth grade, has been pleased with the success of Kelsey’ reading program.

“The children are excited to participate in the program, and Kelsey seems to have blossomed as well,” Campbell said.

Campbell was involved in the selection of the books, which was based on the students’ reading levels. Students were required to have parents’ release forms to participate.

Eaves developed her love of reading at an early age.

“In third grade I started reading above my level, and by sixth grade I read at an eighth-grade level,” said Eaves.

She’s still an avid reader, and she understands the importance of reading comprehension.

The busy high school senior works at Advantage Vision. She’s also part of the Queen City Dolphins swim team, president of the Anime Club and previously wrote for her school newspaper.

After eight weeks working with the third-graders, she established relationships with them.

“I have bonded with the children, and sometimes they gave me hugs,” Eaves said.

She wants future volunteers to know that the project really doesn’t take much time.

“I really hope the reading program can continue for years to come,” she said.