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10-09-13-reading-rocks1.gifFor years, the people of Fayetteville and the surrounding area have come together to celebrate and promote literacy in the schools. The community does this by participating in Reading Rocks. It’s a great way to support local schools and participate in something healthy at the same time.

“This year will be the best year ever! Reading Rocks started in 2004. This year is our 10th anniversary so it is a very special year and we are very excited. Last year we had more than 20,000 walkers and raised $245,000. Throughout the history of Reading Rocks, we have had 200,000 walkers and have raised $1.5 million,” Belinda Cashwell, the director of Media Services, explained.

Reading Walks has two parts. First the students in the school system raise money by soliciting sponsors for their participation in the walk. Then there is the Reading Rocks Walk-a-Thon where all the students, teachers and parents walk through downtown and celebrate the contributions being made to literacy. The walk is through beautiful downtown Fayetteville, and schools that raise the most money get to lead the walk. There is a lot more going on than just walking however.

“We call it a parade in reverse. There are school bands preforming all along our 1.2-mile walk, and the band of the school that raised the most money will get to lead the walk,” Cashwell said. “We will also have a host band that will entertain everyone before we get started and a 500-voice choir to sing the “National Anthem” and the “Literacy Rocks Song.”

In the spirit of supporting the community, there is also a cause every year at the walk- a-thon to which walkers can donate. 10-09-13-reading-rocks2.gif

“We love to give back; last year we collected used cell phones to donate to women who are victims of domestic violence. This year we are working with Second Harvest Food Bank and are encouraging kids to bring canned foods to donate. Walking is free, but we do accept and encourage donations. We want to celebrate our 10th anniversary! We expect to do this at this years Reading Rocks by coming together and reflecting on our past and celebrating the present,” said Cashwell.

In the past few years there has been a major change in Reading Rocks — it has gone digital. The money still goes to support the local schools, but the schools have been pushing to modernize.

“This change has everyone involved extremely excited. Cashwell explained some of the ways the money raised will be used in schools. “The money goes to buy students digital books and other tools like iPads. Students will be able to read a book and then go to the library and take a test on it. Then the parents or grandparents, or whoever signed up for it, will receive a text or email telling them about the test. Reading Rocks is fun and a great way to support the schools’ initiative to go digital.”

The walk will begin at 9 a.m. on Oct. 19. The walk is 1.2 miles long through downtown Fayetteville and will start in Festival Park located at the corner of Ray Avenue and Rowan Street. For more information, visit http://mediasrvcs.ccs.k12.nc.us/ccs-reading-rocks-walk-a-thon/. ERINN CRIDER, Staff Writer. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom-ingweekly.com.

Photo: Thousands turn out every year to participate in Reading Rocks.

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