Partners in Education representatives are still looking for volunteers for the 17th annual Drop Everything and Read Day.

“As Waxahachie ISD grows, there are additional classrooms and thus additional readers needed each year,” said Melissa Cobb, Partners in Education director for the independent school district said.

The event, dedicated to stressing the value of reading by providing reading role models, usually brings in more than 500 volunteers from around the community.

This year’s event will be Feb. 7, at two different times. Guest readers will be placed in every classroom grades pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Elementary campuses will read at 8:45 a.m. and again at 10:15 a.m., while Finley Junior High will read at 8:45 a.m. and Howard Junior High will read at 10:15 a.m. Waxahachie High School and the Ninth Grade Academy will also participate, with students reading in their classrooms.

Each year brings in new reading material selected by school district librarians, and more than 240 new books will be donated to elementary classrooms and secondary libraries, Cobb said. Since the event started, more than 3,800 books have been donated and volunteers have spent more than 8,000 hours encouraging reading, she said.

“It’s so much fun to go back into a classroom and relive having been there, and having a visitor come to the class,” said Cindy Hess, Partners of Education board member and D.E.A.R. Day reader. “The highlight is seeing the whole community come out for it. It really just makes you feel warm and fuzzy about the school district and the community.”

Volunteers are asked to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to their reading time, and will read for 15 minutes at a time. They will check in at the event registration table, get a D.E.A.R. Day button and ribbon, and then be directed to their designated areas.

The campus Principal will then announce when it is time to “Drop Everything and Read” when the reading time has ended.

“We encourage our guest reading role models to share with our students about themselves and if guests are coming from our business community we would love for them dress in uniform and wear their name badge,” Cobb said.

Those who wish to volunteer can do so by contacting the Partners in Education Office at 972-923-4631, ext. 142 or mcobb@wisd.org.

“I would encourage everyone who has never done it before to do it because you have no idea what you’re missing,” Hess said.