By Cindy Zomar, Contributing Writer
Northborough – The concept of paying it forward may not be part of the official Massachusetts elementary school curriculum standards, but the third-grade students at the Fannie E. Proctor Elementary School in Northborough have already begun to master the idea. Following the overwhelming destruction of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, the teachers spoke to the students about the importance of reaching out to help others in their times of need. They then discussed the devastation with the students, and, to help them visualize the situation that other third-grade students were facing, they showed them a short news clip of the damage.
“I don’t watch the news – it’s usually scary – so I didn’t even know about this until we saw it at school,” explained Aiden Taylor.
Susan Brunelle, one of the third-grade teachers, did some research online to determine how the Proctor students could reach across the country and offer some help. Among the schools that were flooded, the Kolter Elementary School in Bellaire, Texas, resonated with her because the entire school had two feet of water in it, and they lost everything. Insurance could only cover so much, and they were asking for help through a variety of fundraisers. The one item that they were requesting was books for their library, for a student body made up of kindergarten through fifth grade.
“The third-grade students took on the challenge to host a book drive and did a remarkable job of paying it forward,” Brunelle noted. “Students have been collecting books since Oct. 9 thanks to the generosity of the Proctor families.”
Arjun Mukherjee commented, “I went home and looked at the books I didn’t need any more from my own collection, and brought some to put in the boxes. One of my classmates bought some new books and brought them in, too.”
His friend, Cameron Swank, reported, “We have so many books that were donated, because we all have books that we haven’t read since we were little. There are boxes in each classroom with hundreds of books we will be sending to Texas!”
When the students were asked how they thought their counterparts at the Kolter School would feel when they saw the boxes, Emily Hurlman smiled and said, “It is a good thing, and they will be very excited.”
Taylor added, “Maybe they will ask their parents to move up here.”
Kolter Elementary is one of nine schools in the Houston Independent School District that will not be able to open this year at all due to the hurricane damage. Students have all been reassigned to other campuses while the cleanup and refurbishing continues. The school librarian, Cynthia Oubre, will be receiving the books on behalf of the school.