Bookworms bring in big bucks at RESThe Rosemount Elementary School Reading Rocks read-a-thon raised more than $25,000 for the school
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
If you were looking for a Rosemount Elementary School student late last month, you likely would have found him curled up somewhere with a good book.
For two weeks in late October RES students dedicated hours of their time to reading as part of the school’s Reading Rocks read-a-thon. The event has become a tradition at RES, part literacy promotion and part fundraiser. This year, students’ efforts brought in more than $25,000 for the school.
That’s a whole lot of cash, and students did a whole lot of reading to earn it. According to Sarah Rothstein, who was in charge of organizing this year’s event, the 424 students who participated in Reading Rocks read a total of 227,137 minutes. That’s nearly 536 minutes – about 8.9 hours – per student over a two-week period.
RES has made an effort in recent years to get out of the business of selling things like wrapping paper or magazines as fundraisers. This way, students focus on something that helps them academically, and the school gets to keep more of the money that comes in, rather than paying it out to the company that organizes the fundraiser.
In some cases, RES has paid out as much as half of its fundraiser profits to outside companies. With Reading Rocks, the only expense was a few prizes – mostly books and t-shirts – for students who hit certain goals.
“The cool thing for us is, it’s not an easy time for schools or non-profits and (parent-teacher organizations) in terms of revenue and budget,” RES principal Tom Idstrom said. “It’s not easy for families, either. To add another fundraiser onto people’s plate is not always what we need to do. The beauty of this read-a-thon is, it’s what we believe in.”
Idstrom led a student assembly at the beginning of the Reading Rocks campaign to get students excited about the project, and Rothstein said the effort worked. Not all of the school’s 665 students participated, but those who did were eager to talk about how much they’d been reading or how many pledges they’d collected.
“I would walk down the halls and kids would stop me and say, ‘You’re right, reading does rock,’ because I was known as the Reading Rocks lady,” Rothstein said.
Reading wasn’t the only motivation, though. As a reward for hitting their goal of $25,000, Idstrom spent a night camping on the roof of the school at the end of the drive. Rothstein said seeing the principal on the roof was a big selling point for students.
“That was a lot of their pitches for the people to pledge them,” she said. “Not, ‘I’m reading a lot,’ but ‘If we raise money, he’ll sleep on the roof.’”
Idstrom brought his tent onto the roof and was there to greet students when they arrived for school the next day.
Idstrom spent a similar night on the roof two years ago, but last year students fell short of their goal.
Idstrom said the success of the event was worth the night of roughing it.
“It’s great to see the excitement for reading,” he said. “Kids were bragging about the number of minutes they’ve read to the adults in the building.”