by Peyton Wilson
Reading Aces is a service project that calls for high school students to help struggling elementary school students learn how to read.
Reading Aces was created by current Lamar High School senior Brette Machiorlette in 2009.
Machiorlette’s idea was met with almost immediate success.
After such a great start with the service project at Lamar High School, there was no wondering why Brette’s mother Lori decided to bring the service group to STH when her son Max enrolled a freshman this fall.
Reading Aces was initially started as Machiorlette’s IB project, which is a Lamar requirement for students partaking in the IB program.
“As sophomores, we are required to complete a ‘Personal Project’ which can basically be about anything you want to learn or achieve,” Machiorlette said.
The project got its name and primitive support from Machiorlette’s tennis roots.
“I used my connections from the tennis world to attract large audiences of children and volunteers whom could participate,” said Machiorlette. “The program seemed to flourish from there.”
Unlike the first couple months when volunteers where scarce, Machiorlette now is forced to create a work schedule for all Reading Aces volunteers because of the large number of students who have sacrificed their time to serve children.
“Finding volunteers was the hardest part,” Machiorlette said. “High school students are very busy with sports and other extra curricular activities, so finding enough people to volunteer every week was not easy at the beginning.
“However, when people realize how fun and rewarding the program is, they are very willing to participate”
St. Thomas was the sixth high school to get involved with this organization.
Other high schools involved are Lamar High School, Memorial High School, Clear Lake High School, The Emory Wiener School and Trafton Academy.
With other schools helping at up to four different sites, St. Thomas remains located at one school, Memorial Elementary School.
However, the faculty at Memorial Elementary School have already voiced their pleasure with the students that have assisted the children with reading.
“This is such a wonderful opportunity for the child to bond with a positive male role model and work on both oral and reading skills,” a first grade teacher at Memorial said.
With a goal to end illiteracy amongst our elementary school students, the expansion of Reading Aces is an essential goal.
“Ideally, I would love to see the program expand state or even nation-wide,” Machiorlette said.
After three quick years of its establishment, Reading Aces has already impacted 250 students in the Houston area and is bound to help countless more young children.
With the help of students, the organization is on track to reach out to 400 students by the end of the year.
Any students interested in signing up for the Reading Aces program should contact Director of Campus Ministry Marty Matulia.
This program is an excellent way to not only earn service hours but also to make a real difference in the youth of our community and help secure a brighter future for Houston.