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!)

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  1. Walter Boomsma

     /  May 28, 2010

    Jane Daniels-Hall, art teacher, offers some pencil expertise that may help us with our shopping. She advises that she doesn’t get too far into the school year before students start “borrowing” pencils and “if it has an eraser on it, it will never be seen again.” This means regular shopping trips for pencils, extra erasers and hand-held sharpeners. Since she’s become something of an expert pencil shopper she shares these lessons she’s learned: “…old pencils have erasers that get hard and don’t erase. Cheap pencils have very dark and soft leads that smear. And sometimes new pencil cap erasers really aren’t new and they sometimes have too big openings so they just fall off the pencils.”

  2. Thanks for the posting Walter. As an update on the Smart Starts for Students project, the registration period opened on June 1 and as of today have 36 families/71 students registered. Obviously, we will need a lot of erasers this year. Donors: We need your support and so does the Grange, See you at the Wicked Huge Yard Sale on June 19th!

    Parents: Registration period ends July 31, 2010. Requests are filled first come, first served basis until supplies are deleted, so register early.

  3. Just noticed that the office phone # is listed incorrectly. You can reach Penquis @ 207 564-7116 or Sheree Brown at 207 974-2440 about the program. We now have 150 students or 74 families asking for our help. What can you do to help?

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