Myla Prezleski, a Emerald Hill Elementary School fourth grader, settles in with a book as she reads as part of the school’s Read-a-Thon fundraiser.

Emerald Hill Elementary School students will have their noses in books over the next few weeks as they participate in a Read-a-Thon fundraiser with hopes of converting the school’s courtyard into an outdoor classroom.

During the Read-a-Thon, which is the school’s parent-teacher organization’s only fundraiser this year, students are being challenged to log 120 minutes of reading time. In turn, students are seeking pledges for the amount of time they read or flat donations.

In years past, Principal Tori Gelbert explained that the annual fundraiser often included large student gatherings, which of course is not possible amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The fundraising goal is $30,000, about half of which would be used to transform the courtyard into an outdoor classroom. Hopefully, Gelbert said the outdoor classroom would be installed by the spring, at which point it would be accessible to three classes per day. Features of the classroom may include flower beds and benches constructed by boy scouts along with perhaps a whiteboard.

The remaining money may fund technology needs or playground equipment. Online donations can be made at through Dec. 4 and checks can be made out to the Emerald Hill Elementary School PTO.

Students explain on the fundraising website that they are “excited to be a part of it because this event raises money for me and my classmates to continue to be enriched with instructional resources that support our educational opportunities and other programs that are essential to our learning environment.”

Various prizes will be awarded to the students who log the most reading time while the class that raises the most money will receive a reading of “Todd McNask and his favorite mask” from local author Layton Scarbrough and receive signed copies of the book.

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