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Area Organization Brighten's Student's Holiday with Books

Dec. 17, 2009

The last Thursday before Christmas break wasn't a normal day at South Waco Elementary. It's not every day that Santa Claus walks into your class and gives out books to every child in the school.

News - Storybook Christmas Brightens Student\'s Holiday 09.12.17

Students shrieked, mobbed Santa, and immediately tore into their books on a day that is the culmination of a lot of hard work by the Storybook Christmas Foundation over the course of the year. The foundation collects donations of money and books, stores them at the Waco Tribune-Herald, and then distributes them to students throughout McLennan County. They passed out 624 at South Waco, part of the 20,000 they're handing out this year. Says president Pat Hutyra, days like yesterday are a chance to see the fun side of all the hard work.

Febyola, a fifth-grader, was one of the students excited to receive her gift. She, along with most of the other students at the school spoke excitedly about their love of reading. But the statistics say that many of these students will drift away from that love, especially if they fall behind early, or grow up in homes where reading is not a priority.

That's Ricky Edison, the principal at South Waco Elementary. He recognizes the importance of community involvement. It's invovlement like that highlighted recently in the second annual Greater Waco Education Summit. Mayor Virginia DuPuy, as well as Cynthia Hernandez, an expert on child literacy who spoke last month's summit, talked to KWBU then about the goal of getting different groups in the comunity involved in education.

Says Principal Ricky Edison, A Storybook Christmas is a perfect example. Though they started passing out books long before the Greater Waco Education Summit and Alliance, he sees them as a model to follow.

Maryetta Deal's third graders were among the energetic students who experienced a buzz over books and reading yesterday that a teacher can't always replicate on a daily basis. First grade student Armani, excited about her book and a microphone, wanted to show off the reading skills she's been polishing immediately, telling the story of Morris the Moose.

President Pat Hutyra says that building that excitement over reading is something they hope plants a seed for lifelong learning, and is their main goal. But while the longtime goal of literacy is always out there, yesterday was a day for the volunteers, teachers, and administrators to enjoy the reactions of the students, reactions that Hutyra said she'll take with her throughout the rest of the year.

You can see pictures from the book handout online at KWBU.org. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.

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