Friday, June 22, 2018
Education

Pasco school programs put free books in hands of needy children

A few years ago, staff and PTA members at Seven Oaks Elementary in Wesley Chapel noticed that some students were unable to participate in the yearly Scholastic Book Fair.

"It was so sad," said Charla Palmer, media specialist at Seven Oaks Elementary. "Teachers didn't want kids who couldn't buy books to be embarrassed, so they'd sometimes ask them to stay back in the classroom during the book fair. Other kids were told they could just look at the books."

Three years ago, Palmer joined forces with the PTA to make sure that no Seven Oaks student would leave the book fair empty handed.

"The PTA felt that if a child was not able to participate in the fair, then we should ensure that every child who wants a book, gets a book," said Ana DaSilva-Bernie, PTA president.

Getting involved with Scholastic Book Fairs' national All for Books program, Seven Oaks Elementary this year raised $2,418 toward the purchase of 970 books from Scholastic. That's one book for every child at the school. Through this program, schools generate funds for the purchase of books for their disadvantaged students. For every dollar raised, Scholastic donates one book to an organization that helps needy children around the world.

Due to this year's Seven Oaks Books for All donation, facilitated through PTA fundraisers that include family movie nights and cookie dough sales, 2,400 books will be sent to the Kids In Need Foundation and Kids in Distressed Situations Inc.

"We want the kids to understand the great need in our own community," said Danielle Biggs, treasurer of the Seven Oaks PTA as well as a teacher and parent at the school.

The free books, handpicked by Palmer and PTA members, were delivered to the students last week in their classrooms.

"As a teacher, I see the benefits of reading to my students," Biggs said. "As a parent, I see how excited my kids are when they get free books."

And, according to Denise Nicholas, first vice president of the Seven Oaks PTA, that's the whole point.

"We do all this for the kids," she said. "They're the ones who really matter."

Kids at Northwest Elementary in Hudson also are learning the value of reading and giving the gift of literacy.

Northwest students recently sent 410 books to students in Papua New Guinea as part of the school's yearly participation in the OCHO Project: Read for a Need. In this program, now in its fifth year at Northwest, students pledge to read eight books to earn three to five free books that they can select at a schoolwide book fair. After the kids enjoy these books over the summer, school counselor Lisa Peart asks them to bring back the books to be donated to needy kids across the world, in areas such as Africa, India, Vietnam — and this year, Papua New Guinea, a Pacific island nation that has a 56 percent literacy rate.

"When I first learned about the OCHO Project: Read for a Need, I thought it would be great for our school because I knew many of our students did not have books of their own at home to read," Peart said. "At the first OCHO free book fair, the students were so excited and could not believe the books were free!"

Peart said this project carries long-term benefits for Northwest students.

"During the school year, our students have access to a ton of books in our library, but over the summer some families do not have access or transportation to the public library and a lot of students do not have many books at home," she said. "That is why we hold the free book fair the week before school is out, so that we ensure that every student is going home with three to five books so they can keep reading over the summer."

And they learn to give back.

Children's author Marilyn Perlyn, creator of the OCHO Project, travels to member countries to deliver the books. She sends photos and stories from her trips to Peart, who shares the tales and images of life in Papua New Guinea with the students at Northwest.

"Our students get to come to a school with a beautiful library and advanced technology like iPods and iPads for them to use," Peart said. "Some of the schools we have donated books to in other countries don't even have electricity or any books at their school, and seeing this helps our students appreciate all that they do have.

"The greatest moment is when I show the students pictures from the other countries and they recognize a book they donated in the hands of a student half way across the world!"

Comments
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Published: 06/20/18
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE — As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Published: 06/20/18
Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

An early analysis of the Pasco County School District’s 2018-2019 budget projects a deficit of more than a million dollars, with more than half of that coming from a shortfall in funding new school safety requirements.Costs to hire and train 53 new s...
Published: 06/20/18
New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

ST. PETERSBURG — Originally pitched as a nine- or 10-story, 550-bed dorm for the overcrowded University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, USF’s latest residence hall project will likely look much different by the time it’s done.For starters, it...
Published: 06/20/18
Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Am I missing something in the — pardon the expression — brouhaha over the renaming of the University of South Florida Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center? In trading a college arena’s longtime name for that of a big-name beer brewed ne...
Published: 06/20/18

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

DADE CITY —Just a few weeks into summer vacation, Pasco Middle School student Jade Neal, 14, was back at school, delving into a challenging STEM activity on force in motion, as the theme to Mission Impossible played in the background.The assignment? ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18
School board races attract new faces

School board races attract new faces

TAMPA — When long-time Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes resigned this month from the board to run for the State House of Representatives, the decision affected more than just her seat in west Hillsborough’s District 1.It also coul...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/17/18