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Madison Metropolitan School District

20 Years of Literary Magic: Celebrating Read Your Heart Out's Anniversary

20 Years of Literary Magic: Celebrating Read Your Heart Out's Anniversary

In a heartwarming and joyous celebration, MMSD recently marked the 20th anniversary of its beloved Read Your Heart Out (RYHO) program. On Feb. 12 at Lincoln Elementary, the commemorative event began with a well-attended opening breakfast ceremony, bringing together a diverse and enthusiastic audience eager to celebrate literacy, community engagement, and the program's profound impact over the past two decades.

RYHO’s visionary founder, Michelle Belnavis, and co-founder, Andreal Davis—both esteemed former educators of MMSD—were in attendance, and their dedication to fostering a love for reading and learning resonated throughout the event, setting the tone for a month-long celebration filled with inspiring activities.

The ceremony welcomed numerous distinguished participants, including the Divine Nine Sororities and Fraternities, and 100 Black Men of Dane County, whose engagement underscored the collaborative effort that has made RYHO a cornerstone of community involvement.

The essence of the celebration lies in the collective spirit of families, district staff, and volunteers who identify as African American or Black. These individuals were invited to share literature, recite poetry, and make inspirational connections with students at every elementary school in the district. The commitment to representation and inclusivity was evident, with each participant contributing to the program's broader equity initiatives.

Taking place throughout Black History Month, this celebration not only honors the rich legacy of African American contributions to literature, but also reinforces the district's commitment to ensuring that every child feels welcome and represented. The program’s engaging activities, heartfelt connections, and literary explorations serve as a testament to its enduring legacy of fostering community and a passion for learning.

Read Your Heart Out Glass awards