Planting the seed for a future love of books
“Planting a small seed can make a big difference,” Riley Rouse explained to the River Elementary School second-grade students Friday, Dec. 20.
Rouse and fellow River senior Olivia Romick had just finished reading “The Hog Mollies and Little Lily’s Legacy” to the students.
In the story, the Hog Mollies, a colorful group of animal friends, learn the history of their clubhouse tree.
In the story, the Mollies search for the best plan for creating a garden.
Each of the animals had a plan, but they couldn’t agree.
As it turned out, the smallest of them, Little Lily, had the answer.
“It wasn’t the strongest,” Rouse told the River second-graders, “or the most popular or the oldest. None of that is necessary to be a great leader.”
Lily might have been small, but the seed she planted in the story made a big difference years later.
Rouse and Romick might not have been aware at the time, but the small seed they were planting can also make a big difference.
They were sharing the joy of reading as part of the Second and Seven Foundation’s Reading Program, which recently kicked off in the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District.
Throughout the district, student-athletes from River, Monroe Central and Beallsville high schools read with second-grade students each Friday through the end of March.
“It’s a program to promote literacy for economically disadvantaged kids,” River High School Principal Ed Trifonoff said. “A lot of students don’t have access to books at home. (Through the Second and Seven reading program), they can start building their own libraries.”
At an age when students are starting to develop their reading skills, Trifonoff hopes the program will help the second-grade students develop a passion that will last a lifetime.
Student-athletes like Rouse and Romick play a part in the process by reading with the students.
Before entering the room to read with the students, some of them saw Rouse and Romick waiting in the hallway. The students waved and smiled at them.
Romick went to church with a few of the second-graders, while Rouse rode the bus with some of them.
Now they are role models for the next generation of River students.
“We’re trying to start a pattern,” Trifonoff said. “We want (the second-grade students) to grow up to be good leaders and role models like our student-athletes are.”
Rouse told the students how she planned to go to college to become a teacher. Romick said she hoped to become a doctor.
That’s in the future.
On Dec. 20, like many other student-athletes throughout the SOLSD, they were seed-planters.
After they finished reading with the second-graders, Rouse and Romick handed out a copy of the book for each of the students to take home, another addition to the libraries Trifonoff mentioned, and another seed that was planted.
“One seed can become a whole garden,” Rouse told the students. “You each get your own book. You can take it home and read it over and over again.”