Elks lodge donates to Shearer reading program

The Winchester Elks Lodge is helping students love to read, one book at a time.

The lodge gave Shearer Elementary School $3,500 to purchase more than 400 copies of “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White as part of a new program.

Don Aldridge, the exalted ruler of the Winchester Elks Lodge, wrote the grant for the One School, One Book program.

During February, all Shearer Elementary School students will read the same book.

“It is our goal to help students to love to read,” Aldridge said.

Every child will have a copy of the book, and the teachers and staff will read aloud every day to the students from the book.

Shearer will also host activities throughout the month to create additional excitement centered around the book.

Aldridge said the benefits of reading aloud to students helps them to listen better and longer, build more comprehensive vocabularies, help them to understand complex concepts better, to feel positive about books and learning and more.

The plan is to have staff read aloud the same chapters from the book every day. Shearer will also hold discussions about the text.

Volunteers from the Elks Lodge will also read from classes and with students who may have missed a chapter because of an absence.

Principal Mark Rose will also share a talking point every morning during the announcements about the previous day’s reading and will also offer trivia questions to the students throughout the week.

Participating students who give the correct response will receive a prize.

All staff members — including office personnel, janitors, cafeteria workers, assistants and others — will read the book as well and engage in conversation with students throughout the day about the book.

Assistant Principal Cathi Harmon said she purchased the books and is looking forward to starting the program in February.

“We’re excited,” Harmon said.

The Elks Lodge picked Shearer Elementary because it is a Title I school; about 72.7 percent of the students are eligible for free lunch, and about 41.8 percent of the students read below the proficient level, Aldridge wrote.

“Without financial assistance and volunteers from outside organizations, this school would not be able to provide this opportunity for its students,” he said. “Our lodge will be able to identify people in need to help by creating this partnership.”