Click on the picture below to watch the video of these incredible Clark Cubs present at the EESD Board Meeting:
In a time when e-readers and other screens seem to be taking the place of good old fashioned books – you know, the kind you can hold in your hands, where the spine cracks satisfyingly, and the pages can either embody the smell of fresh new paper or that satisfyingly musty scent of a much loved tome – our kids can sometimes surprise us with not only a love for old school paper and ink books, but also with a commitment to go above and beyond to make sure there are enough of those books to keep our library shelves filled to the edge.
Four students at Carolyn Clark Elementary – Nikhita Arun, Rebecca Dang and Rohan and Rahul Prabhu – approached Maria Moreton, a sixth grade teacher at Clark with an idea. They realized the number of books in the school library was glaringly low. There were empty shelves and lots of in-demand titles weren't available to Clark students. They researched and found that Carolyn Clark had the lowest number of books in the District, as well as badly outdated non-fiction. They further calculated that (by a large margin) their school had the lowest ratio of books-to-patron. They knew something needed to be done and these four were the ones to do it. They launched the idea to "Fill Our Shelves", which would become the name of the fundraising campaign to do just that.
The idea started with Arun, but all four – big readers, all – jumped in with both feet, meeting in Moreton's classroom before school, during recesses, and lunch time. "For the last few months, unless I was on duty, we were in my room working on the project," says Moreton.
Their goal was to raise $4000 - $5 each for 800 students. It was a big goal, especially for four young people with no real fundraising experience. In the end they raised $5000.The books are starting to arrive and get shelved now.
They leaned on parents of Carolyn Clark students, of course, but also reached out to the wider community, successfully soliciting support from individuals and companies like EOK Technologies, Freeman Orthodontics, and Vice Mayor Herrera. They offered prizes for fundraising goals reached to incentivize students (offering flashlights, bookmarks, books and other items for those who reached their goals). They worked their audiences, educating them on the need for these books and the difference they would make to Clark students, until their goal was first reached, and then, surpassed.
Library Media Assistant, Diane Hobbs and another sixth grade teacher, Grace Gonzales, were also instrumental in supporting the project. Gonzales' class raised the largest amount of money for the project; Hobbs assisted with research, acted as treasurer for the project and opened her office to be the center of operations. As the person occupying "book central" at the school Hobbs has a unique understanding of the need. So much so that when the fundraising totals were announced she did what Rahul Prabhu described as her "happy dance" (we regret our cameras were not on hand to witness said "happy dance" so faithful reader – you will need to simply imagine it...).
All the work these students put it isn't a one-time deal either. The school is committed to carrying on their important work. Hobbs points out that this project was "an inspiration to all of us." Sixth graders at Carolyn Clark will now be charged with living up to the extremely high bar set by Arun, Dang, and the Prabhu brothers.
"In our electronic age, it is refreshing to notice that a book still brings pleasure to a child, providing endless knowledge and wings for the imagination," says Moreton. "Never underestimate the power of our students! I am in awe of the humility of these four students. They humble me, they inspire all of us, and they validate the work we do as educators. They have made such a difference at our school, of which, they have yet to comprehend the extent."
(Article by Charles Crosby)