Southeast Bulloch Middle School educators boarded a school bus Thursday afternoon, journeying to a Brooklet-area neighborhood to distribute free books as part of National Reading Month.
The recent excursion was the final one for this year of an inaugural event called “Spring into Reading.” The educators distributed books in the Stilson and Nevils communities on two previous Thursday afternoons.
It’s a joint-effort with Southeast Bulloch Middle and its three feeder elementary schools. Organizers hope to continue the project each year, visiting different neighborhoods.
“So many times, we bring the people to the school,” said SEB Middle Principal Dr. Torian White. “But we wanted to go out into the community. It’s really all about an attempt by the middle school to go into the community for outreach.”
The book-delivery idea was the brainchild of Dr. White.
“I met with our family liaison, Sherry Jordan, and media specialist Shannon Robertson and said, ‘What if?’ And they took the idea and ran with it.”
White emphasized the collaborative effort of the book distribution and credits the logistics program at Statesboro High School for book donations, the Bulloch County school transportation system for providing the school bus for deliveries, representatives from the Peach State Health Plan for putting together goody bags for each child, Board of Education members like Heather Mims who attended the distributions and administrators and teachers from the various schools involved.
“We want to get kids excited about reading in the early grades, and that will spill over into middle school and high school,” White said. “We want to ignite the passion for reading.”
Some of that passion showed on the faces of the students receiving books during the recent delivery. Little ones, like a third grader who said he plans to read his new “Star Wars” book first. And the first grader who proudly showed off her “Perfect Princess Christmas” and beamed when she pointed to Tiana.
“She’s my favorite princess; that’s why I wanted this book,” she said.
Word spread from the front of the neighborhood to the back, even before the bus could make its way there and children were smiling and running to get to the bus. At one of the last stops, high school senior Louis sat on the porch and shook his head politely when offered a book. He watched his 16-year-old sister pick out a couple of thick books to read.
Then he reluctantly made his way off the porch, smiled and said, “I can only take two? I’d take all of them.”
Many of the children and parents recognized the teachers and staff from Brooklet Elementary and the SEB Middle School and greeted with hugs or handshakes. A couple of students posed for a picture with their principal.
With an exchange of “thank you’s” and waves, the book distributors boarded the bus and headed to another neighborhood.