Atlanta Public Schools elementary students were the best fans in the stands at McCamish Pavilion for the Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball home opener against Coastal Carolina.
More than 3,000 APS elementary students cheered and waved their gold pom poms all game long to support the Lady Yellow Jackets, who have partnered with APS for at least eight years to promote independent, free-choice reading.
“This was a celebration of literacy,” APS director of library services Jennifer Saunders said. “We want our students to begin to recognize the power of reading and to celebrate them and have a fun time celebrating reading.”
APS students participated in the Georgia Tech Buzzer Readers Reading Challenge from September 5 through October 5. Students used Beanstack, a digital reading log application, to track their progress. After the competition ended, Georgia Tech invited APS students to the first home game of the season to root for the Yellow Jackets and celebrate the top young readers across the district.
At halftime, Georgia Tech invited the top reader from each grade level and the top overall reader onto the court and awarded them with a reading certificate. Georgia Tech also recognized the top classroom for each grade level.
After the awards were given out, they invited a large group of students, interim superintendent Dr. Danielle Battle, and a few teachers for a game of Simon Sez with halftime entertainer Steve Max.
“The students were absolutely excited when they first arrived at the stadium,” Saunders said. “Every time Georgia Tech scored a basket, there was a roar of cheers from the crowd. The kids absolutely loved the experience.”
This year, Georgia Tech partnered exclusively with APS for the Buzzer Readers Reading Challenge. Unlike other reading challenges, Buzzer Readers isn’t about who can read the best or the fastest. It simply rewards students for taking time to read on their own.
“We want our students to begin to recognize the power of reading and to celebrate them and have a fun time celebrating reading,” Saunders said. “The idea is that our kids are building healthy reading habits. Just like we celebrate our athletes and our musicians, we also celebrate our readers because that is just as important. We are showing them that reading is important in their lives and we acknowledge that.”
The students had a great time at the game and got the full Division I basketball game experience, complete with the pep band, cheerleaders, and dance team keeping the energy going throughout the game.
“For a lot of our students, spending time on a college campus is not something that happens in their lives regularly or at all,” Saunders said. “The fact that they were able to go to downtown Atlanta and know that this university is there and it’s available and acceptable to them is exciting. We’re sowing seeds for the future in our youngest students.”