By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — The sun continues to shine on young readers at Derry Village Elementary School.
Students in Linda Rosinski’s first grade class are spending an hour each week participating in the school’s the school’s SUNBEAMS program. The program joins the young students with middle-schoolers for afternoons of books, reading activities and friendship.
SUNBEAMS — Servicing Unique Needs Between Elementary and Middle Schools — is a program bringing eighth-grade students into first-grade classrooms for the after-school reading partnership.
Every Wednesday for seven weeks, students from nearby West Running Brook Middle School walk down to the elementary school to spend time with younger readers in Rosinski’s class.
The hour-long session included reading, word-based games and writing exercises.
Elizabeth Toomy and her friend Hilarie Cullen settled into a corner of the room as West Running Brook eighth-grader Caitlyn Cyr read a story.
Caitlyn is no stranger to this class. She was a first-grader here eight years ago when SUNBEAMS began, with Rosinski as her teacher.
Now, she returns weekly to help.
She remembers that early experience with SUNBEAMS.
“I remember reading,” Caitlyn said. “It was only me with one other person.”
Caitlyn said helping younger students read is part of her dream to someday become a teacher.
Caroline Masessa was also one of the original SUNBEAMS students.
She spent time last week sharing stories with four of Rosinski’s students.
“I remember first grade,” she said. “I remember sitting at that rectangular table over there.”
The older students are nominated by their teachers to participate. Rosinski said the goal of SUNBEAMS is to enhance the younger students’ reading and other academic skills — and to have some fun, too.
Derry Village Elementary School principal Steve Miller provided colorful orange shirts for the SUNBEAMS students to wear.
Rosinski said the program helps foster reading skills in the younger students. For the eighth-graders, participation in SUNBEAMS helps meet their community service expectation for the year.
Caitlyn said she enjoys teaching kids and is happy to come back to her class to help.
“It’s really fun,” she said. “It’s nice to be part of this class and help these kids grow up.”