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School supplies received by Summer Stride students

Project Summer Stride: Week Nine

Have you ever gone shopping for 18 children? Me neither--until last Friday, that is. Rebecca K. and I braved the tax-free weekend rush to stock up on paper, pencils, glue, scissors, and a host of other scholastic accoutrements for our Summer Striders’ last day.

Over the past eight weeks, we spent each Tuesday getting to know these kids, showing them how fun a library is, and most importantly, encouraging them to read, read, read. Just as we don’t want the end of each school year to mean a halt in learning, we also didn’t want the end of Project Summer Stride to come without some tangible reminders of what these students have achieved. Hence our venture to the pencil aisle.

Kids spent the first hour of our last day taking assessments, working with their tutors, and writing thank-you notes for the wonderful volunteers who worked with them each week. For many of our students, the best part of Summer Stride was the personalized, one-on-one attention from their tutors.

We invited families to join us after tutoring to celebrate their students and to meet many of the tutors. Parents, grandparents, and siblings joined in the fun of a pizza lunch, a special Summer Reading Challenge medal ceremony, and a rollicking musical storytelling performance by Story Squad.

As students left with their families for the last time, they were given a large bag of books to add to their mushrooming personal libraries, a lime-green backpack with school supplies for the upcoming year, and Richland Library’s new “Eat Sleep Read” t-shirts.

It was hard to tell if the students were more excited about the backpacks and school supplies or their crisp new books--but does it really matter if they were more excited about getting back to school or setting down with a good book?

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