by Mitch Harris
As young children, we all loved to read books like “Green Eggs and Ham,” “Horton Hears a Who,” “Rumplestiltskin,” “Jack and the Bean Stalk” and “Where the Wild Things Are.”
Unfortunately, some kids never get to read the books.
Less than one mile away from school at Memorial Elementary, students volunteer every Tuesday to help these kids experience fun in reading a good children’s book.
This year marks the second year of Reading Aces.
In 2011, sophomore Max Machiorlette along with his sister and founder, Brette, thought it would be a great idea to start their service organization.
“[Director of Campus Ministry Marty] Matulia had heard about what Brette had done at Lamar High School and thought it would be a great idea to have Reading Aces at St. Thomas, since I was a freshman.” Machiorlette said. “It also builds lasting bonds with the community instead of just three hours working at a soup kitchen.”
In its first year, Reading Aces read to thirty to fifty kids a week. Now, there are sixty to seventy kids ever week wanting someone older to read to them after school.
This increase in kids shows the impact the student volunteers had made on their learning. With the increase in kids, comes a demand for more student volunteers.
But students answered the call, and in one year, membership has doubled from 15 volunteers last year to 30 readers this year.
“The students here at St. Thomas have a real sense of responsiblity,” Machiorlette said. “They actually take an interest in the kids and not just the hours.”
Reading Aces has been such a success that Incarnate Word Academy started the program earlier this week.
“It’s always great to see that the word about Reading Aces is spreading around,” Machiorlette said. “It is an example that people want to get involved in the community around them and help others out.”
Since it’s founding in 2009, Reading Aces has been all over the Houston area. The program has branched out to schools like Clear Lake High School, Stratford High School, The Emery Weiner School and Trafton Academy.
According to Machiorlette, there also has been interest at St. Agnes in starting Reading Aces there.
With all the help Reading Aces gives, they also need some in return.
“We are in constant need for more books. We are growing too fast and the number of books we have cannot meet the needs of the number of kids,” Machiorlette said. “Not only does it mean a lot to us, but it means a lot to the kids as well.”
At the end of the semester, Reading Aces gives trophies to the kids for their developing their reading skills every week,
We are always in need of trophies,” senior Devion Bear said.
The trophies the kids receive are old trophies given to Reading Aces by donators of all different sports, from old baseball trophies to tennis tournament trophies.
“Some of these kids have never received a trophy before,” Bear said. “They don’t care if it is a trophy for baseball. The excitement on their faces is all really matters.”
Max suggests that if there are any old children’s books or trophies sitting on your shelf that have not been touched in years and you don not care to use anymore, you should donate them to Reading Aces for a good cause.
You can drop them off in a box at the campus ministry office or give them to Machiorlette.
Reading Aces has shown huge success and continues to grow. Only the best is expected out of its future.
“Our goal is to have Reading Aces spread to 3 to 4 schools every year,” Machiorlette said. “We want all Catholic high schools to experience the same thing that is going on here.”