In memory of a recent Paschal High School grad, the school has started a reading festival that will continue inspiring children to read for years to come.
Paschal High School students and teachers joined forces with TCU students on Oct. 15 to honor Andrew Medford with a reading festival.
Medford, a Paschal alum, died in a one-vehicle car crash on the Chisholm Trail Parkway on Aug. 18, 2016.
The festival was also part of a city-wide and district-wide push for reading.
Medford graduated in June from Paschal High School where he pitched and played catcher on the baseball team. He had signed to play baseball at TCU this year.
Paschal paired up with the school incentive program Score a Goal to host the reading festival for Fort Worth ISD elementary students, according to Paschal High School outreach specialist Maria Manks.
Score a Goal hosts reading festivals, reading rallies, and other activities in the Fort Worth area to encourage students to be excited about school, Manks said.
“We are hoping to inspire kids to love reading at a young age because it will affect them for the rest of their lives,” Manks said. “We were really excited for this reading festival—not only for the [schools that feed into Paschal] but it is just a unique and perfect opportunity to honor Drew for years to come.”
Paschal High School senior Truly Tinsley said Medford was a close friend.
“I think Drew would love this,” Tinsley said. “He always promoted building yourself and he would have been here if this was for anyone else.”
Tinsley said Drew always looked for the best in people, and he was always happy.
“He would be smiling like crazy at an event like this,” Tinsley said.
Manks’ husband was a coach for Medford. Manks and her family also attended church with him.
“We were close with Drew, he was such a good guy and it was hard on all of us,” Manks said.
In attendance were approximately 120 children from elementary schools and 140-160 volunteers, Manks said. Parents and school personal accounted for approximately 75-100 people.
“It is my job to outreach to elementary schools to develop partnerships and programs to allow these students to be successful in the future,” Manks said. “So it was perfect to bring together elementary schools and our pyramid for the festival.”
The Mayor proposed a reading initiative that states 100 percent of third graders will be reading at grade level by 2025, Manks said.
“From kindergarten to third grade, children are learning to read,” she said. “From third grade on students are reading to learn.”
First, second and third grade students came from schools such as Tanglewood Elementary, Lily B. Clayton Elementary, Westcliff Elementary, Alice Contreras, George C. Clark, De Zavala Elementary, and Daggett Elementary, Manks said.
“Our reading festival was a great way for people to participate in volunteer opportunities,” Manks said. “Not only is it for the hours, but it is a way to get involved in reading as community.”
The festival had volunteers from all over the Fort Worth area, including members of Christ Chapel church, the TCU and Paschal High School baseball team, TCU LEAPS and friends and family of Drew Medford.
The festival began with a pep rally with the Paschal cheerleaders. The pep rally had leaders who talked about reading and then the elementary students were assigned one of the volunteers as a reading buddy.
“The children were able to remain engaged and actively participated in the reading,” Manks said. “Our volunteers also loved being with the kids.”
There was also an optional parent session where parents were educated on literacy resources and how to help their child with their reading goals.
April Preston brought her 8-year-old son to the reading festival.
“This reading festival is a wonderful thing,” Preston said. “I know reading is a big problem and to promote literacy as a parent, sometimes I’m worried about the comprehension—not the reading, so to have my child pick up a book is just great.”
Manks said that Paschal received great feedback from parents and schools.
“We are looking forward to continuing this tradition,” she said. “Our hope is to not only increase literacy amongst our pyramid schools but continue to build a sense of Paschal community and pride for these younger students who hopefully will become Paschal panthers one day.”