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Benton Heights School of the Arts students gifted books

Monroe Mayor Bobby Kilgore, seated at right, reads to a group of Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts students. Also pictured is Brittany Slagle, a second-grade teacher at Benton Heights, who attained the First Book-Charlotte grant that gifted 2,400 books that students will take home.

Thanks to Brittany Slagle, a second-grade teacher at Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts, about 400 students went home April 30, 2010, each with six new books to begin their very own home library.
   
Slagle, the recipient of a First Book-Charlotte grant, invited local elected officials and community leaders to be part of the celebration, which was kicked off with a Book Distribution Assembly held in the school’s auditorium.
   
“It was my goal that every classroom would have enough volunteers to have the children read to individually or in small groups,” she said. 
   
Besides local elected officials, books were read by members of the Monroe Rotary Club, the Union County Public Library, the Literacy Council, the Monroe Police Department, Monroe City Council, UCPS Central Services, Union County Community Arts Council, United Way, Crisis Management, the banking industry, Carolina Medical Center-Union, the Enquirer Journal, the judicial system and the Mayor’s Office.
   
Slagle said that every student in kindergarten through second grade received six books, which will be taken home to enrich literacy. This totaled about 2,400 books given to the school.
   
“All of these books are a gift to you,” she said during the assembly. “Take them home and read them over and over again. Love these books. Enjoy them. Let them take you to new world.”
   
Benton Heights principal Mike Harvey told students the school was fortunate to have received the grant that would help each one of them begin their own home library. “We really have a lot to be thankful for,” he said. “We want to celebrate these books. Go back to your class and have our special guests read to you.”
   
Beverly Dorn-Steele, with the PBS affiliate WTVI in Charlotte, brought Seemore Goodstuff, the station’s purple elephant mascot who was greeted by the screams of an auditorium filled with students.
   
UCPS Deputy Superintendent of Instructional Programs Dr. Mary Ellis spoke to students on the importance of learning how to read, while First Book-Charlotte co-founder Colleen Ludington encouraged students to not only read at home, but also to share those books with their brothers and sisters.
   
Ludington said the mission of First Book-Charlotte is to give all students the opportunity to read their own books at home. “We’ve granted about 80,000 brand new books to children in Mecklenburg and Union counties in the past four years,” she said.
   
Over a four-year period, Ludington said First Book-Charlotte has given about $800,000 in books to students in Union and Mecklenburg counties.
 

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: May 14, 2010 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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