By Rob Glidden
Students and staff at Southington High School held an informal event on Monday to thank the American Legion Auxiliary, which has funded the purchase of $1,800 worth of new books for the school’s library.
The donation was for a “reluctant readers” program proposed by literacy specialist Jen Paul. The funding was used to purchase copies of “high-interest” books which explored teen issues like bullying, gang violence and eating disorders.
“My class has really loved these books and they are great tools for teaching,” Paul said.
During the event in the library, numerous students spoke to members of the Auxiliary about their experiences of reading these books. Some also shared poems they had written.
Seniors Justin Rose and Eli Grenier spoke together at the podium. Both had read books about youth delinquency and gangs.
“It was a different kind of book,” Rose said. “It made me want to keep reading.”
Freshman Angel Mange said the novel “Ryker’s High” had given him a scary insight into life at a juvenile detention hall.
“If you didn’t donate that book, I wouldn’t have found out what that was like,” he said.
The donation was made possible by the success of the Auxiliary’s book donation program. Residents are invited to drop off used books in large boxes which are sold to the Massachusetts-based Got Books, Inc. The Auxiliary has been using the funds raised by these sales to give back to the community.
The original drop-off box for the books is located near the YMCA, but a large response from the town made it possible for another one to be added on the Southington Drive-In property.
“The one behind the YMCA fills up every two weeks,” said Auxiliary member Rachel Wache. “We needed a new one and I wanted to catch the flow of traffic on Meriden-Waterbury Road.”
The group endorsed Paul’s proposal for the “high-interest” books during the last school year but was not initially sure if they had raised enough to fund it. Wache said that on the very last day of school in June, they realized it would be possible.
Months later, students have been able to read the books and the “reluctant readers” program is considered a success.
“The kids have been inspired and that’s really terrific,” said Auxiliary member Cindy Kopzca.