25th Annual D.E.A.R. Day brings nostalgia to readers

Waxahachie ISD has celebrated the importance of reading for 25 years through D.E.A.R. Day, a program that is a direct reflection of one of the district’s core values — community.

Drop Everything And Read Day was started by the Partners in Education department and became a staple initiative that community members and students look forward to every year.

The founder of D.E.A.R. Day, Melissa Cobb, served as WISD’s director of Partners in Education and retired in 2021. This was her 25th year to be involved in this reading event, but her first year to serve as a volunteer.

Cobb read at Felty Elementary and Simpson Elementary, where she said the students were attentive and welcoming. While at Simpson, she shared a hug with the school’s namesake, Max Simpson, exhibiting the ideal Forever Hachie moment.

“We had an amazing team who organized the very first D.E.A.R. Day and all those to follow,” Cobb said. “With wonderful WISD and community support, this special event continued throughout these many years.”

max simpson and melissa cobbmax and melissa hugging

The variety of people who volunteer as readers is one aspect that makes this tradition unique. Some readers are well-seasoned and have read to students for 25 years, while others experienced the joy for the first time.

Readers varied from alumni, current students, elected officials, retired teachers, business owners, parents, and the fan-favorite, Verity, the service dog from the Ellis County District Attorney’s Office.

dog in harness leash

Waxahachie High School alum Bob Aday is no rookie, as he has participated in D.E.A.R. Day since the 1999-2000 school year, typically reading at campuses he attended as a student himself. This year he read to second-grade students at Northside Elementary, the campus where D.E.A.R. Day began. Northside is also where he attended school from grades first through sixth when it opened in 1955.

Aday reminisced saying, “It’s fantastic, you know, remembering living close to the school. I don’t think I did in the first grade, but second on up, we walked to school. You could do that kind of stuff because we lived three blocks away.”

D.E.A.R. Day has become a tradition for Aday. The interaction with the students along with the genuine comradery keeps him coming back each year. He also noted how special it was to see WISD Superintendent Dr. Jerry Hollingsworth reading to the students.

“It feels good,” Aday said about reading at Northside.

He continued, “That’s why I like to go back there. Obviously, the interior has changed a lot, but there are a lot of things that haven’t. In the second-grade class, I was [reading] in, the old, blue lockers that they had originally were still in that classroom and I remember them.”

man seated reading to young students

Sandy King is in her first year serving as the district’s Community Outreach Coordinator and spearheading D.E.A.R. Day and was proud to announce that the 25th annual event brought in 530 readers.

“D.E.A.R. Day is a perfect example of WISD’s core values coming to life,” King said. “Strong community involvement is vital to the success of our students, which is why it was great to see so many citizens from so many walks of life coming into our classrooms and positively impacting the lives of the children.”