Wilton high schoolers connect with younger students through books

Anastasia Rogozinski began the Read to Me club in her first year at Wilton High School. She's now in her senior year and the club has flourished during the pandemic.

Anastasia Rogozinski began the Read to Me club in her first year at Wilton High School. She's now in her senior year and the club has flourished during the pandemic.

Wilton Read to Me Youtube Channel

WILTON — When Anastasia Rogozinski was about to enter Wilton High School in 2017, she researched club offerings to see what might be of interest.

She happened upon a “Read to Me” club, which connected high shoolers with their elementary counterparts in a way that was dear to her heart — reading.

When she got to Wilton High, however, she realized the club wasn’t active, so Rogozinski decide to ramp it up again. Now the senior says the club is still going strong and growing.

Wilton High child and human development teacher Kristina Sluzewski is the club advisor.

“The group is an amazing unifying activity between the students at Wilton High and Miller Driscoll,” Sluzewski said.

Students visit classrooms and read books to the individual classrooms, accompanied sometimes by a connected craft.

The club initially was small, with four or five members, but continued to grow. Then COVID-19 hit.

Rogozinski and Sluzewski said they weren’t sure what was going to happen to the club given the level of interpersonal activity. Surprisingly, one of the few silver linings was the move to virtual for most programs has proved to be an effective one for Read to Me.

“We’ve been incredibly successful,” Sluzewski said. “... We have more than 20 members and have read books to almost ever class at Miller Driscoll.”

Live readings are done by Zoom, but the program also uses a YouTube channel for recorded readings. The flexibility of doing the readings virtually or at their own convenience has opened the program up to many more participants. Some are regular members and some do just one reading or participate part time.

“Anastasia is a huge reader. This program allows high schoolers to inspire younger students by helping them to enjoy reading,” Sluzewski said. “... Right now, we need as much connection as possible. This is such a special thing and so exciting for teacher and students,” she said.

Rogozinski said she has always loved to read.

“It’s such a special thing to be able to read to little kids. It is such a unique activity. My parents always read to me,” she said.

She said the online aspect really has helped the club grow.

“It’s allowed us to be more flexible,” she said, ,adding the readings are broadcast on the classrooms’ Smartboards. “... It has kind of picked up from there. It’s something pretty easy so we have a lot of new members this year.”

As far as how she chooses books, Rogozinski said she has a collection of books from her early childhood she shares with the students.

One of them, “The Library Mouse,” by Daniel Kirk is her favorite.

“The kids really love it when I read that one, and then they find out there are three or four of them and they get really excited.

Because the high school has a preschool on site, students sometimes borrow from that library or, with virtual readings, online books are also an option.

Rogozinski, who graduates this year, said she hasn’t narrowed down her choice for college yet, but hopes to study English or education. She’s also a member of the French honor society, the National Honor Society, and works on the newspaper staff.

Natasha Ring, a junior, first joined the club at the start of her freshman year after one of her friends told her about it.

“I thought it sounded interesting so I joined and loved it. My favorite part of the club is getting to interact with the kids. They are always so happy to see me and get so into the stories,” Ring said.

“This year has been a bit different due to the pandemic, but I still love being a part of the club and reading to the kids even if it is over Zoom,” she said.

Jamie Leventhal, also a junior, said she joined the Read To Me Club because, “I love working with kids and want to get them excited and engaged to read.”

“Reading to the children at Miller-Driscoll is enjoyable, fun and enables me to make special bonds with the kids,” Leventhal said.

Rogozisnki said she feels the club is in good hands for the future after she graduates, as does Sluzewski.

“This group of kids is an incredible group of leaders. We have 9th- through 12th-graders, evenly mixed, with a junior and senior leading group,” she said. “... It’s been such an incredible thing to see the connection of the teenagers at Wilton High to the elementary students at Miller-Driscoll.”