Stephanie's Heroes: Books Below the Equator

By: Stephanie Satchell Email
By: Stephanie Satchell Email

March 5, 2012

From Greene County to the Galapagos Islands, students at William Monroe Middle School have a big goal and they are willing to work hard to achieve it.

"We've had several fundraisers. We had one at the farmer's market in December, and we had all these student's making projects," said seventh grader Abby Mitchell.

The students are selling Galapagos pins, bookmarks and even dog treats to raise money for a big service learning trip.

"I really like seeing what that's like to work hard and then go and give that gift to do something for someone else. It's not all about them, they know that. They are doing this for someone else," said their teacher, Mary Craig.

In June, the students will be traveling to a school on the equator near South America, delivering more than 1,200 Spanish books and transforming an empty room into a library. It's all part of the Books Below the Equator project.

"We are going to help them build their library, put books in the right place, and make sure everything is in order," said sixth grader Charlie Hatter.

The students will put up shelving, catalog books, and everything else needed to help the students in the Galapagos Islands have access to a library in their school.

"For a school that has no books, when we have so many. It just seems like a bit unfair to me," said Mitchell. "So going there and being able to help them get what they need is good for me because I just want to help."

Not only are the students working hard to raise money, they are using their free time to learn the Spanish language. Teachers organizing the project say knowing Spanish will be important for basic communications while they are visiting the islands.

"They are in the process of learning, some of them are taking Spanish as part of their elective classes. Those who haven't had the chance to do it have been meeting after school and every other week," said Erin James, a teacher.

While there are a lot of preparations for this trip, students say they don't mind having the extra work, if it means sharing the gift of reading with their new friends thousands of miles away.

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