Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Sharing a Love of Literacy ; Junior High Students Lead Elementary Book Drive

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Sharing a Love of Literacy ; Junior High Students Lead Elementary Book Drive

Article excerpt

Start small. Dream big.

"And don't let anything get in your way of making it happen," said North Junior High School Assistant Principal Michele Branson at Thursday afternoon's eighth-grade assembly.

Branson admitted no one thought the eighth-grade service learning project, Huskies: Behind the Books, would generate such a positive response in the community and grow to be so big.

But they were wrong.

"This is the whole point of pride," Branson said. "This is Husky pride.. You put a lot of heart into this and when these books go back to the schools and the kids take them in their hands, they will understand the importance of reading and literacy."

Huskies: Behind the Books was a pilot community service learning project for the roughly 435 eighth-graders at North. The team of eighth-grade English teachers - Leeann Kassenbrock, Arlene Allen, Tracy Fuquay, Natalie Jones, Katelyn Buttram and Russ Luecke - realized not everyone has the opportunity to read books to practice and strengthen their skills. So they created a project to raise money and donations for new books and supplies to benefit the feeder schools in the North district - Vogel, Scott, Delaware, Oak Hill and Evans.

Since November, students have raised more than $3,300 and collected around 1,500 books. The money funded purchasing more books and resource materials. Principals from the feeder schools were present Thursday to accept the nearly 300 books and resource materials that each of the schools received.

"I think this was one of the things that everyone had a chance to be a part of, everyone had a job and could contribute," Kassenbrock said. "The response was amazing. We kept getting more and more donations. I couldn't believe how many people were interested in it."

In the beginning, students researched facts about reading and literacy, each student wrote and mailed at least three letters, totaling more than 1,275, seeking contributions. Parents and guardians chipped in to help with the cost of envelopes and stamps.

"Literacy is a growing concern, and this project will help to inspire and aid in the literary growth of not only Huskies in grades K-6, but also the continued success of the eighth-grade current Huskies," the letter read. …

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