Ashland Bookcase Project helps Head Start children develop a reading habit

ASHLAND – A smile is a powerful thing.

It inspires, encourages, promotes warm feelings and indicates pleasure.

And the Ashland Bookcase Project, founded in 2012 by a retired educator and school psychologist Julia Wrightattracts smiles at all levels while uniting the community to promote reading.

From children who receive bookshelves loaded with good books and a budding reading animal, to Ashland West Holmes Career Center students who make the libraries and other members of the community who work to support the program, there are lots of smiles for everyone.

“When I show up at the handout ceremony and you see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they receive this library, that’s what keeps me going,” said Dave Hunter, lawyer from Loudonville, a Career Center board member and chair of the annual event, which this year will take place in two sessions at 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. on April 24.

RAMTEC students help children develop a reading habit

Hunter has chaired the program, aimed at helping children make reading a habit and a family activity, for about five years. He said 80 children will receive the personalized bookcases filled with around 60 books this year.

“I think people see the need to give books to our young people,” he said.

Construction Technology Instructor John Staats said while his students were making the libraries, students and teachers from other Career Center programs were also getting involved

The students of the RAMTEC program (Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Technology) manufacture the custom name badges. Early childhood students read to children. The culinary program includes snacks on the day of the library distribution. And the students in the graphic design program make the invitations and the flyers.

“It’s heartbreaking to see the faces of the children when they receive their bookcases, and how excited they are to have a book and a stuffed animal to read,” Staats said.

Children in the Ashland County Head Start program are the beneficiaries and their parents must agree to read to them for 20 minutes a day.

“The goal of the project is to develop students’ vocabulary and ability to read on their own so they can be successful both in school and in life,” Staats said. “One of the biggest barriers to learning at any age is a lack of reading skills and vocabulary. If a person can read, understand and analyze what they read, they can learn anything.”

Hunter called the library project a win-win for the career center because of all the students learning while serving the community.

“It’s something students can look back on and say they helped a young child get started in school,” he said.

Students from other programs help by taking photos, loading cars, preparing and organizing the event.

Career Center students reap the rewards of the Bookcase project

Students in the John Staats Building Construction program at Ashland West Holmes Career Center work building bookcases for the Ashland Bookcase project.

About $200 goes to each library between materials and books, according to Staats. Construction technology students work at different stations to assemble the bookcases.

They are plywood with oak faces.

Elder Ben Lober said he has benefited from the program as much as the children who receive the libraries.

“From learning how to make libraries to helping distribute them. It feels good to help people who need it,” he said. “It was great to see how happy the children were when they received the library with all the books. It’s a fun project; a lot of work, but seeing how the children react is worth it.”

Avery Hriesik agreed, saying it was a fun and educational experience.

“It was a big process that we had to do, starting from scratch and bringing them all together,” Hriesik said. “Now we’re putting the stain on them.”

Senior Dakota Luna said it was a satisfying and rewarding project.

“It feels good to see what we can do. We have a task in hand and we are getting it done,” he said.

Community support from other organizations makes the program a success

Hunter noted that various organizations, such as Lions Clubs, Rotary, Norma June Foundation and VFW, as well as partner organizations like Simonson Construction and other entities that work with the Career Center have supported the project year after year. .

Donations from over 20 individuals and organizations ranged from $40 to $1,500.

A year ago, funding for the program ran out. Staats said he posted a notice on social media and donations started pouring in.

“Last year Ashland VFW Post 1067 asked how much we needed,” Staats said. “I asked for $500. They gave us $1,000. This year, their donation was $1,500.

“It’s really amazing how much people support this project,” he said.

Contact Kevin at [email protected]

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