HANCOCK - About 40 Gordon G. Barkell Elementary School students were gathered around tables filled with books last week in a classroom, excitedly looking for something they might like to read.
The books are part of the national Reading is Fundamental program and were supplied to the school by Kiwanis Club of the Copper Country.
Carl Dewald, Kiwanis RIF representative for Hancock Public Schools, said the organization has been distributing books to the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw, Chassell Township Schools, Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools, E.B Holman School, Elm River Township School, Houghton-Portage Township School District and Hancock for about 20 years.
Third-grade students at Gordon G. Barkell Elementary in Hancock look over some Reading is Fundamental books May 12 hoping to find something they like. The books are provided by the Kiwanis Club of the Copper Country, which has been giving books to local students for about 20 years. From left, Tessa Stromer (Bulldogs T-shirt), Gavin Carlton (black shirt) and an unidentified girl look over books. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Kurt Hauglie)
Dewald said funding for the book distribution program comes from a couple of sources.
"We had grants," he said. "We had money we raised, also."
However, Dewald said the program is in jeopardy of ending because continuation of the grant funding is uncertain.
"What that cutback means, we don't know," he said.
The books are provided to third-grade students, Dewald said, after teachers fill out an order form.
"The schoolteachers pick out books they think are appropriate for their class," he said.
Dewald said students seem to like having the books available.
"They're very popular," he said.
Barkell third-grade teacher Sally Fortin said when the books arrive, it makes the students' day.
"They're excited," she said. "They actually read their books."
Some of the students trade books with classmates, also, Fortin said.
Barkell Principal Bruce Matson appreciates what the Kiwanis members have done providing books for the third grade students, which also gives the students a good role model for helping the community.
"I think Kiwanis encourages a lifelong skill like reading," he said.