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Rhys Hoskins, Phillie Phanatic bring reading award to students at Cathedral of St. Peter School in Wilmington: Photo gallery


WILMINGTON — Karen Banta says she is Sister Donna Smith’s “guinea pig” when the principal is looking for someone to try something new at Cathedral of St. Peter School.

Earlier this year when Sister Donna received information on the “Phanatic about reading” program run by the Phillies, she handed it to Banta and asked her to check it out.

Banta not only checked it out, but she challenged her 11 third-graders to commit to a reading program that would put them up against 80,000 students in dozens of schools in the tri-state area. The kids agreed to 20 minutes a day of reading. In return, she told them there would be no written homework if everyone stayed with the reading.

It paid off.

In fact, after Banta submitted a summary of the program she implemented, the Phillies determined the local Diocese of Wilmington school was the best of the bunch. The reward came Friday morning, Jan. 24, when the Phillie Phanatic and Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins showed up at the school to celebrate their achievement.

“I’m excited for the school,” said Banta, an 18-year veteran of the faculty.

The kids were excited, too. Kids in every grade at the pre-K to 8th grade school were gathered in the gym when Hoskins strutted in and made his way to the front of the group. He helped welcome the Phanatic and his familiar, zany routine. The first baseman read a book to the gathering and the Phanatic pranced and danced his way through the 40-minute program.

It is the 14th year the Phillies have promoted the reading program. Xfinity is also a sponsor.