Elementary school students from Holyoke celebrated the conclusion of a special partnership with free ice cream and books courtesy of Holyoke Community College.
For the past school year, faculty and staff from HCC have been visiting the Morgan School as part of a program that matches individual students in kindergarten through third grade with a reading mentor. Reading mentors from HCC met with their Morgan School mentees about twice a month throughout the school year.
"Today," said HCC president Bill Messner, "you're graduating from the program. Congratulations!"
Each of the 16 Morgan School students received a free, age-appropriate book, along with colorful balloons, and as much ice cream as they could eat, with all the trimmings.
They also received an admissions packet to HCC.
"How many people here are going to be going to college?" he asked. "I see a lot of hands. Some of you might even come here to Holyoke Community College. If you're going to go to college, you are going to have to work hard. Can you promise us you are going to continue to work hard if we give you some books to read over the summer?"
According to the Morgan School teachers who accompanied the children to HCC, the students in the mentor reading program improved up to 11 reading levels during the academic year.
Photos: (Left) HCC reading mentor Carole Sterritt, from HCC's Institutional Research department, stands with her mentee. (Right) Boys from the Morgan School enjoy their ice cream.