Lenoir City Christian Academy students focused on reading Friday during the school’s first read-a-thon fundraiser in conjunction with the birthday of well-known children’s author Dr. Seuss.

Nine community members representing local media, law enforcement, Lenoir City government and the LCCA board of education read to students 9-10 a.m. Students in grades kindergarten through seventh grade also read in the classroom.

“This is something we’ve seen a few other schools do and we thought, ‘You know what? Let’s give it a shot and just see how it works for us’,” Brittany Schwenzer, school assistant, said. “We think for our first year is extremely successful.”

Students sent letters seeking support from family and friends around the end of January. The read-a-thon raised a little less than $3,800, Schwenzer said.

“Give it a shot and see how we do, and we feel like we did well,” Schwenzer said, laughing. “… At first we thought if we make $1,000-$1,500 that’d be awesome. I mean we can do a lot with that, and then when we saw the numbers we both were just like, ‘Oh my gosh’.”

“We’re so proud of our kids,” Principal Melinda McGill said, emphasizing all the money raised will go back into the classroom.

“There’s lots of things that we would like to use it for from technology into the classrooms to more help for the teachers,” McGill said. “We have an art program, we have a Spanish program, teachers assistants, things that we can utilize in the classroom too.”

Kindergartner Peyson Shaw took home first place after collecting $700, fifth-grader Lilyana Helton came in second by raising $550 and seventh-grader Caleb McCarroll brought in $490.

Each winner received a prize. Schwenzer said most items were donated by the community.

“We asked around if our community would be willing to donate stuff and they came through,” Schwenzer said. “Now we took about $100 and bought the Toys ‘R Us gift cards but other than that everything was donated. So our community came through for our school and that was amazing. We are blessed, so blessed.”

While Friday’s effort was meant to raise funds for the classroom, school officials hoped to foster an appreciation for reading at a young age.

“Students when they read, there’s also benefits to it,” McGill said. “They spark imagination, creativity. It’s good for their brains to think critical the different story lines and just to beef up their vocabulary. There’s lots of benefits with reading. It sparks their interest more when they have more goals (they are) trying to accomplish.”

Brad Mizer, LCCA school board chairman, was present to read. He brought some favorite books of his son, who at 5 years old attends the school. Mizer said a good reading habit could change a child’s life.

“I know how much it helps my kids to be able to go all over the world when they read a book,” Mizer said. “I think it’s awesome when kids get to hear a different variety of books than what they would normally have at home.”