East Side celebrates literacy week with pep rally

Teachers at East Side Elementary, led a pep-rally for reading, Friday in the cafeteria. East Side celebrated First Quarter for Literacy Week.
Staff Writer

Former Mississippi State and current Philadelphia Eagles football standout Fletcher Cox, together with fellow reigning Super Bowl champion Chris Long, and the nonprofit social enterprise First Book are delivering 6,000 brand new books to students at 35 Mississippi schools and programs this week to celebrate “First Quarter for Literacy Week (FQLW).”

East Side Elementary held a pep rally to celebrate the occassion.

Melissa McKinney, librarian at East Side Elementary, took the idea for FQLW, and decided to have a pep rally to celebrate reading.

"I know kids love the excitement of a pep rally," McKinney said. "I thought it would be a good way to motivate them to read."

The program was devised to get books into the hands and homes of children without them, McKinney said.

"We asked the children how many books they had at home for their parents to read to them," McKinney said. "That's how we decided how to distribute the books. It was according to need. We had a number of students who received five books of their own to keep from the program."

The children waved pompoms and footballs on a stick, while stomping their feet and chanting "Read, Read, Read, East Side, Read, Read, Read!"

"We want to have the children ready for first grade," McKinney said. "And making reading fun for them gets them started on the right path."

East Side Principal Jacqueline G. Gray said the pep rally was wonderful for the faculty and the students.

"I love Melissa McKinney," Gray said. "She is always working to find ways to interest the students in reading. We are laying the foundation for their educational success. First Book provided us with lots of diverse books to appeal to the children. The ones who needed them had a lot of different titles to choose from."

Gray said all the educators in the district are working together to prepare the students for the next school and the next level.

"It is so important to have them reading on level by third grade," Grey said. "We work with that in mind to get the children ready. We try to encourage them early to stay in school and graduate."

Long and his wife Megan launched the “First Quarter for Literacy” drive in September 2018 by donating a quarter of his 2018 salary to increase early literacy for young children. The initiative is designed to put more books into the hands of children in underserved neighborhoods, build excitement and awareness around the role parents and caregivers play in raising readers, call on fans to join in the effort by purchasing books to enable distribution to more kids.

The Longs chose to focus their education philanthropy this season on reading, more specifically by fourth grade to address the documented connection between fourth grade reading proficiency to long term academic success and high school graduation.