Who’s Got An Eraser?

A few weeks ago I spent several hours over the course of a week or so helping with one of the Guilford Primary School second grade classes on their “inquiry projects.” It was a pretty awesome experience! Imagine second graders doing the equivalent of term papers! When we started writing the drafts I bounced from desk to desk to share ideas, do a little editing and correct spelling. “Mr. Boomsma, will you help me?” (Bookworms don’t just read, we write too!)

                I confess it took a while to stop reaching for my pen as I worked. Second Graders work in pencil for a reason. While finding a pencil wasn’t too difficult, finding one with some eraser left was! (I suspect if I’d been a little less in demand I’d have had some time to consider a story or poem about a tired pencil whose eraser was worn down from a school year of writing.) I asked no one in particular “Where do we find a pencil with an eraser?” The kids are usually great at helping a guest find his way around the room, but there was a notable lack of response to my question. Eventually one little guy dug into the back of his desk and with a secretive smile presented me with his cherished possession—a pencil with a few millimeters of eraser left on top. Of course the kids have somewhat adapted to the problem by doing “cross out” and making smudges. I suspect they’ve also figured out “he who has the eraser has the power.”

                Since a lot of my volunteer work with the school is about “empowering” kids, I found myself considering the idea that a simple pencil with some eraser left could mean a lot in a classroom where a lot of mistakes have been made in the course of learning. Kids’ needs are often simple but simple doesn’t mean unimportant. So it seemed somewhat fateful that shortly after the experience Sheree Brown from Penquis contacted me regarding their Smart Starts for Students Campaign.

                The campaign represents a school supply assistance program for the greater Piscataquis area by providing starter packs of new school supplies for families in need throughout MSAD #4, #41, #46, #68 and Union #60. (The starter packs include erasers!) Last year nearly 250 kids benefitted from the program and there’s every reason to believe the need will be even bigger this coming school year. Penquis is looking for donors to help empower our kids.

                Donations can be money or specific items. There are lots of options! You can “back to school” shop for a specific starter kit or just some items… you can pick which district your donation will go to and even decide whether you want to help at the elementary, middle or high school level. Penquis is working really hard to make it easy for us to help. Look for drop boxes around the area where you can leave items. You can find details regarding the program at the Penquis web site or call the office at 564-8196 564-7116 (see comments).  Parents may use the same resources to register their children for the program.

(Valley Grange is collecting school supplies… if you’d like to help you can contact any Granger or bring items to the Grange Hall when you come to the Wicked Huge Yard Sale on June 19th!)