Students bustled into the sunny atrium of the Department of Transportation (DOT) Headquarters, filled with anticipation for Amidon-Bowen Elementary’s End of Year Celebration. The welcoming space, made festive with bright decorations and familiar storybooks, was available to students thanks to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, a longtime supporter of Everybody Wins! DC (EW!DC).
(Left picture: Target's Jody Warden, Secretary Ray LaHood, EW!DC's Mary Salander and Amy Oberhelman also from Target)
More than 100 Power Lunch students and Reading Mentors from 19 organizations turned out to celebrate a successful year before parting ways for the summer. Mary Salander, executive director of EW!DC kicked of the celebration by thanking all mentors.
Secretary LaHood spoke of his joy in mentoring his former student Ashley Walton. Ashley, a graduate of Spelman College, surprised LaHood this March with a touching reflection at the EW!DC Gala. “Everybody Wins!DC is about more than just reading,” he reflected, “it’s about the influence of a lifetime.” Sharing Ashley’s story as an example, Secretary LaHood encouraged the students to continue reading so that they may achieve the same success.
Flags in hand, the Amidon-Bowen student choir (right picture) took the stage to enliven the crowd with a performance of “Sing, America, Sing!” and “Joy Like a River.” Hallways overlooking the atrium filled as DOT employees emerged from their offices to admire the children’s singing.
Student Clarence Eggleston and his mentor Suzanne Immerman (Department of Education) wowed the crowd with their inventive reading. Clarence and Suzanne discovered that rhythmically clapping helped improve Clarence's confidence while reading aloud and now use the technique of beat-boxing in their sessions. Suzanne clapped while Clarence amused the crowd reading from Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Tony Kelly from the U.S. Coast Guard and her mentee Kalin Bowlware entertained the crowd with a reading from You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You. Principal Izabella Miller and School Coordinator Olivia Meyer both thanked Reading Mentors for their support of the program.
Jody Warden, a representative of Amidon-Bowen’s Lead Mentor Corporate Sponsor, Target, congratulated graduating fifth graders and encouraged them to set their sights on high-school graduation. Target donates 5% annually for programs to ensure reading proficiency, an important predictor of high-school completion. Jody challenged students to read every day this summer, and concluded with the biggest crowd-pleaser of all: “Who wants cupcakes?” Thanks to Target, each attendee enjoyed a sweet treat to celebrate the year!
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