Ryan Whitehurst’s eyes grew wide as his cousin, Kasen Jones, unfolded the pages of the book to reveal a drawing of a very large shark. “It’s really big,” Ryan, a fifth grader, said to Kasen, a senior. The pair continued to explore the wonders of the sea as they flipped through Life Size Sharks and other Underwater Creatures, nearby, Steven Burnley ‘15 and Ava Kurkiewicz ’22 read The Wonders of the Cheese Pyramid and Akash Gupta ’14 and Romo Li ’14 read to Zoe Moore ‘21.
It was Buddy Reading Day, an Academy Tradition in which the Middle and Upper Division students traverse Collier Parkway to read to the younger students on the Wendlek campus. Grouped by house and dressed in their respective house shirts, the students join together in a love of reading that allows the younger students to engage with their Middle and Upper Division heroes.
“Its a lot of fun to interact with the kids and to see that they were happy,” said Ethan Haslam, a 16-year-old sophomore who is one of the stars of the Boys’ Varsity Basketball Team. He and fourth grader Ewan Leslie read Crockett Johnson’s classic Harold and the Purple Crayon before moving on to selections from Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. While the pair had not been matched together before on Buddy Reading Day, they have worked together during the sports games after-school enrichment program, Ethan said.
Buddy Reading is but one of many school traditions that both celebrate and teach. Through it, our students learn collaboration and leadership. It’s a great example of Academy’s special sense of community — a place where every child is known and appreciated, respected and challenged.
Submitted by Sushil Cheema and Mark Heller