Melrose Avenue fourth-graders donates books to Providence schools
Carolyn Petrocelli’s fourthgrade students at Melrose Avenue School understand the best gifts keep on giving. Thanks to their class effort, students at two Providence schools, the San Miguel School and the Providence Center School, are enjoying more than 100 brand new books, while the Jamestown children have also benefitted by adding dozens of new editions to their school library.
Petrocelli’s class won 200 new books — 100 to keep and 100 to give away — from Scholastic Book Clubs. The company, which has pledged to give away a million books to underprivileged youngsters, invited children in the Classrooms Care program to “make a difference in the world” by sharing a prize with kids who have less.
“We felt we did something really, really good helping people,” said Abby O’Laughlin, 10. Abby said four San Miguel School students came to the Melrose School to thank the class personally.
“They said they had a really small library, and once we gave the books, it expanded a lot,” she said.
The students won the books by reading books themselves, Petrocelli said. To enter, the children had to read at least 100 books, but her class read twice that many.
“We each had to read 10,” said Mary Baertlein, 10. “We started at the beginning of the year.”
“I read about 20 books,” Abby said. Her favorite, “Best Friends,” included a story about a little girl whose cat grew old and died.
“It made me cry,” she said. Abby has a 12-year-old cat Abe, but last week, she had to give away her 4-year-old cat because it was sick and the treatment cost too much.
In the story, the girl was talking to the cat, but the cat, which had been talking back, closed its eyes.
“The animals are trying to tell you when it’s their time, you shouldn’t feel sorry,” she said.
Connor Barry, 10, read “a very good book to help out these people. I wanted to read as much as I could to get these kids books,” he said, so he went to his favorite author.
Connor likes Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes. He started reading the comic strip because he thought he saw a personal resemblance.
“Hey, this kid kind of looks like me,” he thought, and then he discovered the humor.
“It was hilarious,” he said. If Watterson’s still alive, Connor said, he’d like to ask for his autograph.
“I read all the books I could,” Maddie McDonough, 9, said. She hopes the Providence students will use the books to learn to read, if they are just starting, or to enjoy an adventure, if they’re already readers.
Books for older readers went to San Miguel and to upper classes at the Providence Center School, while the beginning readers went to the kindergarten and elementary Providence Center classes.
The reading levels ran the gamut from beginners to advanced, Petrocelli said, so age was part of the method the students used to decide which books to donate to which school. Petrocelli said the fourthgraders picked out the books.
“I wanted to leave it up to the kids,” she said.
“We gave some early learner books,” Julia Bush, 10, said. She added that some books were specifi cally for girls and others for boys; since San Miguel is all boys, that also was a consideration.
Max Ward, 10, who read 20 books by himself, could have kept three, but he took only one book about magnets and donated the other two to the Providence students. So did his classmates.
“Not many people kept all of their books,” he said. “We gave a lot away. More than 100.”
Mackenzie Montoya, 9, said she didn’t want to keep any of the books.
“I thought we should donate mostly all of them,” she said. “Some schools really need a lot of books. We have plenty,” she said, thinking about shelves filled to overflowing in the library and the classrooms.
Ela Gamble, 10, said the students really needed the help.
“I like to read,” she said, “and I like to share what I like to do with other kids.”
The Melrose Avenue librarian, Lisa Casey, hand delivered the gift to the Providence Center School, according to Ian Lang, of the Providence Center. Their students and staff are thrilled, he said.
“Our students will love reading every one of these books,” said Dolly Brooks, technology coordinator at the Providence Center School. “This gift is special because it involves students giving to other students. We appreciate the thoughtfulness and kindness of this contribution.”
The Providence Center School operates kindergarten through grade 12 for special needs students with “acute behavioral and emotional symptoms,” Lang said.
The San Miguel School of Providence, run by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, serves urban youngsters in grades 5 through 8 and, according to its website, is “dedicated to the belief that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.”
“It was a great idea,” said Olivia Garcia, 10, “because they’re not very lucky and I liked sending them those books. They didn’t really have that many books.”