By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury High School (SHS) junior Nadine Huseby was impressed when she saw a read aloud video during quarantine earlier this year by Daniel Radcliffe. The popular actor, who gained fame as the title character in the Harry Potter franchise, read the first chapter from the first book in the series in the video.
“I thought that was a really kind and really exciting thing for him to do because it’s kind of hard to go to the library when we are in quarantine,” Huseby said.
Radcliffe’s video inspired her to develop her own read aloud videos for which she also enlisted peer volunteers to take part in the project. The videos were shared with local elementary schools just before Thanksgiving.
Using an iPad and an App called “Explain Everything,” she and her team of 13 classmates were able to record and edit their videos. Book selections included “Brave Ballerina,” “Cece Loves Science,” “Days with Dad,” “Thank You, Omu!” and “The Proudest Blue”.
“I just like reading a lot. It’s always been something that I go to and I enjoy imagining different scenarios…this is one of my passions. Why not see if I can do something fun with it?” Huseby explained.
An idea is born
She thought that since they were in quarantine, kids in elementary school wouldn’t be able to have parent volunteers come into the classroom to read to them the way they did when she was in elementary school.
And this offered a way to enlist her classmates to take part in the project.
“I wanted to create something where my peers in high school could be more active in our community so I felt like this project tied the two together,” she added.
She reached out by email to school principals and included a video prototype.
“Reading aloud with different adults increased my confidence and reinforced the importance of reading every day. These early experiences with literacy also allowed my imagination to grow and sparked my interest in English,” Huseby stated in the email. “I know that especially now more than ever socialization is so important, and I feel like this sort of virtual reading project could be a really beneficial experience for both the elementary kids and the high school students.”
School administrators grateful for outreach
“When Nadine reached out in September to pitch her idea to the elementary principals, we were hooked. Anytime a student from SHS volunteers in one of our schools, they make an immediate and positive impact on our young students,” remarked Lisa McCubrey, Floral Street School principal via email. “To click on a link and hear a story read aloud by a ‘real’ person who once sat at their desk in elementary school not that long ago is inspiring for our students. They see themselves in that role as a student mentor.”
Dr. Jane Lizotte, assistant school superintendent added, “These incredible students represent hope, compassion, and generosity. Fred Rogers [aka iconic television star Mr. Rogers] once said, ‘Real strength has to do with helping others.’ His words confirm the strength that our students continue to demonstrate, despite the significant challenges they have experienced throughout the pandemic.”
“We are grateful to Nadine and to her SHS classmates for their work on this project and modeling the joy in reading,” McCubrey noted.
“This is a trial run so if this project continues, like I hope it does, we will probably reach out to other groups of students to get involved,” Huseby said. “I hope that the elementary kids like the videos.”
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