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Mountwest students read to Guyandotte children

Dec. 13, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Several students from Mountwest Community and Technical College visited Guyandotte Elementary on Dec. 6 to continue a service project that started a decade ago.

The students are part of Betty Dennison's Leadership Development Studies classes, and each semester, they are charged with raising funds to purchase books for first-graders at the school.

"One of the tenets of the course is before you can ask others to follow you as a leader, you must serve first," Dennison said.

Her students read "The Night Before Christmas," then gave each student a copy, along with a stuffed reindeer. Caleb Bise said the experience is rewarding on a number of levels; starting with it's the right thing to do.

"For me, being able to serve somebody is very rewarding," he said. "What you feel good about is just serving. And the more people serve, the more people want to follow that pattern."

Dennison said the project requires students to raise the funds to pay for the books. This semester, they secured corporate sponsors, worked parking for Marshall football games and partnered with Wendy's for a burger bash.

She said her class has been working with Guyandotte Elementary through the West Virginia Read Aloud program for 12 years. The goal is to be able to provide a half-dozen books to each first-grade student to help them start their own little library.

"It helps them build a home library," said first-grade teacher Elizabeth Mitchell, who has worked with Dennison each year of the project. "The other benefit is the interaction our students have with the Mountwest students."

Nicole Norris, who helped pass out the stuff reindeer, said she can remember being in elementary school and having someone from the community come in and read to her class. She said children retain it more and learn to have an appreciation for those who serve.