No energy shortage at North Georgetown’s ‘My Very Own Library’ kick-off

GEORGETOWN – The energy level Thursday morning at North Georgetown Elementary School was off the board.

Young students danced with Clifford the Big Red Dog, high-fived the school’s Golden Knight mascot and mingled with UnitedHealthcare’s Healthy Hound during the first-through-fifth-grade school’s My Very Own Library celebration.

The Dec. 7 event was punctuated by a daylong book fair.

Each of the 800-plus students had the opportunity to pick three free take-home books as part of the supplemental, home-based reading imitative supported by the United Way of Delaware, UnitedHealthcare, Scholastic and Global Shapers.

Heather Cramer, North Georgetown Elementary principal, called it one of the “most exciting days” of the school year.

“We are very excited about our kick-off for My Very Own Library,” said Ms. Cramer. “Our hope is to instill the love of reading in all of our students early on. At North Georgetown we believe that every student has the ability to learn and grow at his or her reading skills through hard work. We work on this every day. We believe our students are the best in the state because we work to read every day.”

“It is so important for you to have access to these books because in these books you have the opportunity to dream, because you are our next generation. You guys are going to be pushing Delaware to the next step,” said Orrin White, United Way’s director of community impact. “We work collaboratively with great organizations such as Scholastic, United Healthcare and a volunteer organization by the name of Global Shapers. Everybody combines their resources together to say, ‘How can we get books in the hands of kids?’ because we have seen that children that have libraries in their homes develop a proficiency and a love for literacy which sets them on a path to success.”

During the current school year North Georgetown Elementary students will receive three books three times – December, February and May.

“That’s nine books in total,” said Mr. White. “And they will also get one more book for the summer because we are very focused on the summer slide to make sure that our kids are transitioning from grade to grade … and reading we understand is the key to that doorway to academic success.”

UnitedHealthcare’s program focus encompasses mind and body.

“We are so glad to be one of the sponsors that contribute to make it happen and partner with the United Way, and Scholastic to bring books to the children of Delaware,” said Angelica Cuellar Hardin, UnitedHealthcare director of operations and member management for Delaware’s Health Plan. “We believe that happy kids read, happy kids read about health, happy kids are motivated, they exercise, they drink (water) and eat vegetables and fruits. So, for us it is a good opportunity to partner to make sure the reading level in Delaware improves and that our kids know about their bodies, know about their health and stay healthy.”

Ms. Cramer acknowledged the value of supportive sponsors.

“Without your partnership our students would not have this amazing opportunity to develop a deeper love of learning,” said Ms. Cramer.

Among the special invited guests: James Hudson, former North Georgetown Elementary principal who now serves on the Indian River School District board of education: IRSD Director of Special Services Dr. Jay Owens, IRSD Director of Finance Jan Steele; IRSD Director of Personnel Celeste Bunting and town of Georgetown councilwoman Chris Lecates.

This past summer, North Georgetown Elementary staff and some of their children teamed with community members on an extreme makeover of the entire library/computer lab. The makeover, unveiled in late August, included new carpet and painting that featured a showcase wall mural spearheaded by renowned artist George Bradford, the school’s former full-time custodian.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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