MARYSVILLE — Pinewood Elementary’s English Language Learners recently received $1,000 worth of books, from the Everett Elks Lodge, to write about with their adult pen pals.
The Marysville School District started the ELL Pen Pal Program four years ago, with students from seven participating schools corresponding through handwritten letters with retired teachers and Friends of the Marysville Library, but the program expanded significantly in the following years.
Pinewood Elementary ELL teacher Holly Scriven reported that the Elks dropped off an estimated 150 books for the ELL Pen Pal Program, dwarfing the roughly 25 books that had already been set aside for the program.
“And those 25 books were only six different books, with a few copies of each,” said Scriven, who elaborated that the freshly bolstered collection of books would serve 24 ELL students, including those in second through fifth grade. “One of the problems was that there were not enough books of one kind for all of my students and their adult pen pals to read, so last year, Staci Tuck, who started the ELL Pen Pal Program, bought extras of a few of the books for me. I still needed a minimum of 10 copies each, which is what the Elks did for me with their gift this school year.”
The fall of 2012 saw the school district’s ELL Pen Pal Program cancelled due to budget cuts, time constraints and other academic obligations, but Pinewood Elementary Principal Breeze Williams agreed with Scriven that the program could be woven into their school’s curriculum and continued at Pinewood independently of the district as a whole.
“We are so incredibly appreciative of this gift, and thankful that there are people like the Elks who are so willing to support our students,” Scriven said. “This gift, and this program, helps them to grow in their reading, writing and language skills, but what’s most precious is that it provides an opportunity for them to form a bond with our community, through their interaction with this wonderful group of adult pen pal volunteers.”
Linda Averill of the Everett Elks Lodge has been an adult pen pal volunteer with the program since its inception, and she touted the Elks’ involvement with the Marysville School District’s ELL Pen Pal Program for years.
“We were pleased to purchase books with the help of a national Elks grant,” Averill said. “In the past, we’ve also sponsored the entertainment and year-end celebration for the Marysville ELL students and their adult pen pals.”
Averill deemed the ELL Pen Pal Program as fitting the Elks’ focus on youth activities, and summed up the Elks’ five promises to youth as providing them with safe places, offering them support from caring adults, promoting healthy living, emphasizing the importance of education and encouraging community service.
“By providing these books, Holly could continue the pen pal program at Pinewood, the children could have some new reading material and the Elks participating as pen pals met several of the grant objectives,” Averill said. “It was a win for all of us, but especially for the children.”