By LINDSAY CAREY
A group of Southington High School students who participate in book clubs shared their experiences with Southington Education Foundation (SEF) board members during a reception to celebrate a $2,500 SEF grant for the book club programs.
“My guidance counselor recommended me to join book club to increase my reading and to improve my English skill, so I joined book club,” said ELL student and SHS senior Rong Chen. “It helps me a lot and gives me really meaningful experiences, because these books that Mrs. Paul and Mrs. Simpson provide are the books that are accepted by many other teenagers my age. I enjoy these books because we find out common books we are all interested in, and we get to share our knowledge and opinions on them.”
SHS literacy specialist Stacey Simpson and Teacher of the Year Jen Paul led the reception because they run the book club program, which started with a small group of girls last year and has grown to include 70 students.
“I just wanted to thank you again. You’ve really kept this program going,” Paul said to the SEF board members. “It started with eight girls last year in September and has transformed into 70 kids. Reading has just really come back into the lives of a lot of the kids and we need that to keeping going, because at some point my husband was going to say stop using the credit card to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of books.”
The two literacy specialists applied through the SEF grant process to fund the purchase of books relating to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field.
“It’s gotten me to read more, and it’s got me to think more about the things that we are reading,” said SHS senior Elizabeth Veilleux.
Veilleux, among many other of the students, spoke about here experience participating in the Virtual Book Club, where the SHS book club and third and fourth grader students from Thalberg Elementary School read the same book and correspond to each other online.
“With the elementary student’s we’re working with right now, it’s given me a great chance to see them grow and not only just them, but also myself,” said Veilleux. “I’m seeing things that I wouldn’t have unless I talk to them and see the books through their eyes.”
Along with the student testimonies, Simpson and Paul shared some video footage of the SHS book clubs, discussing the books and asking questions to the students at Thalberg Elementary School through video chat. Jan Galati from SEF said that it was a first to have someone give a presentation to the Board, because they typically are the ones to present.
“It brought to my mind how many different aspects there are to the book club,” said Galati. “Interacting with the third and fourth grade students, collaborating among the teenagers in the book club, and just their excitement with the book clubs is amazing, because they’re doing an enrichment activity where they really have to work hard.”