The Philadelphia Phillies’ Phanatic About Reading program made a stop at the school on Thursday, Sept. 14
As part of the Philadelphia Phillies’ Phanatic About Reading program, the McKinley School, home to many students from the West Kensington neighborhood, had two surprise visitors, Phillies’ infielder Andrés Blanco, and the Phanatic, on Thursday, Sept. 14 to help them get even more excited about reading as the new school year gets underway.
Leading off the event, located at 2101 N. Orkney St., Phillies Director of Public Affairs Scott Palmer gave some background information to students and staff on the Phanatic About Reading program, which was founded in 2004. He explained the program is designed to encourage students in grades K-8 to read for a minimum of 15 minutes a day to improve their literacy skills. Palmer additionally noted that nearly 40,000 students already reading with the Phanatic.
“On behalf of the Philadelphia Phillies, we’re so excited to be here at McKinley Elementary School to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month and to celebrate all of the hard work that all of you are doing. We heard about this great school at Citizens Bank Park and we said we have to come see you in person,” Palmer said to the students. “The Phillies and Comcast agree, reading is an important part of learning, and it can also be a lot of fun.”
Also helping to encourage the young readers, Blanco explained to the students that when he first arrived in the U.S. from Venezuela to play baseball that it was reading that helped him learn English. Thus, he stressed the importance of reading and urged the students to continue reading.
“In my experience, reading is the best thing,” Blanco said. “[Myself and my teammates] came from another country and practiced and practiced a lot and I got better and now I can talk to you very nice.”
Following Blanco’s encouragement to always keep reading, and coaxed out of shyness by the student’s screams and the waving of their rally towels, the star of children’s books and lover of reading himself, the Phillie Phanatic made his grand entrance. After numerous hugs and high-fives with students, he showed off one of his personal favorite books, “The Phillie Phanatic’s Best Rain Delay Ever.” With a little help from two teachers at the school, Michelle Eckert and April Marinell, he was able to share this story with all of the students present in both English and Spanish.
A tale about the Phanatic’s trip back to Colonial Philadelphia to learn about its history, the students laughed and cheered as the Phanatic acted out each scene alongside its reading. Upon the book’s conclusion, the students were told they would each be receiving their own copy to take home.
“I think [this event] helped motivate the kids and interest them in reading. They like reading but I think this helped motivate them even more,” the school’s principal, Marilyn Y. Carrion-Mejia, said. “The Phillies are fabulous, this is now the third year in a row that we’ve been able to bring them out to speak to our kids and they were really excited about today.”
For information on how your classroom can be a part of Phanatic About Reading during the 2017–2018 school year, email firstname.lastname@example.org.