Students at W.J. Gurganus Elementary School were sent off for the summer last week with a going-away present, a free book.
Lenovo and the USO out of Jacksonville teamed up to provide each of the school’s 500 students with a free book to read during the summer.
"I thought it was pretty cool," fourth-grader Christopher Williams said of getting the free book.
He said he reads a lot of books and would be reading his selection over the summer. He said he enjoys reading mostly about history.
"It tells you what happened a long time ago," he said. "It tells you about the people and what they did."
Before students were let go for the summer, they gathered in the cafeteria, where they were told each would be getting a free book.
Suzy Koonce represented Lenovo, the second-largest PC computer vendor in the world with headquarters in Morrisville and a manufacturing facility in Greensboro.
"I’m so excited to be here because Principal (Debbie) Hurst has been bragging about you," she told the students. "She’s been telling me what great readers you are. She says that you love to read."
She explained that Lenovo is a strong supporter of the military and of education. The company was just involved in a computer giveaway last month at Cherry Point. Koonce said that with about 40 percent of students at Gurganus with at least one parent in the military, giving the books away at the school was a perfect fit.
"We’re proud to be a part of the community," she said. "We focus on education and the military, and that’s the reason we’re here."
Hurst said the free books would encourage the students to read during the summer break.
"The importance of the books is to help them keep up the skills that they have acquired throughout the year," she said. "I know they can go to the library, but having your own free book is a lot of fun. There are a lot of new requirements coming down for students in the options of reading, so just having a book in their hands is what we want to do."
She said classroom teachers would also be providing books to the students for the summer.
"Every child will have something to read this summer just so they can practice those words, that vocabulary," Hurst said.
The books were donated through the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Give Five Read Five program, which is designed for businesses and community members to donate five new or gently-used children’s books to elementary schools. According to a release from the state, reading five books or more during the summer break helps prevent elementary students from losing literacy skills.
"We’re very excited," Hurst said of the program. "It’s an honor. We were lucky enough to have Lenovo donate four or five computers to us earlier this year, so this is just a wonderful companion to that. The Give Five program is a wonderful program."