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Four-time Olympic medalist Summer Sanders reads Dr. Seuss Oh, the Places You ll Go to a classroom at Trailside Elementary as part of the Readers are Leaders event on Monday, Sept. 30. (Dan Meier/Trailside Elementary)
Students sat cross-legged in the Trailside Elementary gymnasium listening attentively as Park City Mayor Dana Williams stood at the podium in front of them and announced who would be reading to their classes that morning.

The assembly kicked off the Read-A-Thon, which will continue for four consecutive weeks. It was announced that the class with the most time recorded reading total will receive a pizza party, which brought on shouts of joy from the children.

As part of the "Readers are Leaders" assembly and celebration, distinguished leaders and members of the Park City community volunteered to read to Trailside classrooms.

Athlete volunteers were Olympic medalists Summer Sanders, Derek Parra, and Jimmy Shea, Olympic hopefuls Adam Loomis and Nick Hendrickson, U.S. Olympic Ski Team Coach Jesse Hunt and college and NBA basketball player Mike Doleac.

Authors and writers included Jayanne Sindt, Donna McAleer, Bobbie Pyron, Corrine Humphrey, Pam Strasser, and Nan Chalat-Noaker.

Other local leaders were ER doctor Kellee Shea, FBI agent Derek Price, Mayor Dana Williams, PCSD Superintendent Ember Conley, Lisa Allison of Friends of Animals of Utah, CEO of Backcountry.com Jill Layfield, President of Deer Valley Resort Bob Wheaton, Trailside Elementary Principal Einhorn, University of Utah professor Susan Johnston and a team of two firefighters and paramedics from PCFD's Station 37, Doug Fryer and Dirk Grow.


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Ann Futch, one of the organizers of the event, said she was amazed at the response to her requests for volunteer readers.

"Dr. Einhorn actually had the idea of weaving leadership into the reading theme, so we started making phone calls for some local community leaders who started suggesting other leaders and it just ballooned," Futch said. "We only had one person say no, and it was only because she was going to be out of the country."

As classes were dismissed, Kathy Bochnowski, a coach at Trailside and one of the organizers of the event, let each teacher know which volunteer would be reading to their classroom.

"Mrs. Daenitz's class, upon special request, will be read to by Nick Hendrickson," Bochnowski said.

Daenitz smiled and clapped then motioned Hendrickson to travel with her and her class back to their room. She was Hendrickson's kindergarten, fifth-grade and sixth-grade teacher.

They talked and caught up in the hallway as they walked back to her classroom with her students following close behind.

Daenitz introduced Hendrickson to her excited classroom as he sat on a stool and began to read an excerpt from "The Climb," by Anatoli Boukreev.

"If you don't read all the time, find something you are interested in," Hendrickson told the class. "I like to go climb and hike up mountains when I'm not skiing, so reading books like this are really interesting for me, because I can relate."

A voice came on over the intercom asking volunteers to wrap up their presentations. Daenitz's class thanked Hendrickson for reading to them and headed out to music class as she continued to catch up with her old student.

"When I saw him stand up there I was just so touched, because I respect him very much," Daenitz said. "So when I heard he was reading to my classroom 'upon special request,' I absolutely loved it; it's very touching."

Daenitz said she hopes that having someone young who is relatable and a product of the Park City School District modeling reading will be a strong motivator for her students to continue reading and something that will stick with them for a long time.

Hendrickson remembered participating in reading contests like the read-a-thon but more when he was in middle school, so he is glad that the students of PCSD are facing challenges like these earlier and earlier.

The read-a-thon will continue for four weeks, and students will record the amount of time they read every night. Volunteers will calculate which class allots the most time read, and Daenitz is positive her students will rise to the challenge.

"This class is amazing," Daenitz said. "They really enjoy opening up a book, and you can hear a pin drop here in the afternoon when they are reading."