• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

‘Little Free Library’ opens on Huntertown’s campus

K-KIDS GATHERED around Huntertown Elementary School’s “Little Free Library” following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 16. By opening a Little Free Library, school guidance counselor Bianca Bargo said the entire community can get behind Huntertown’s effort to promote reading in families. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Students in Huntertown Elementary’s K-Kids – a club for young leaders – witnessed an unveiling of the new “Little Free Library” on their school’s campus last week. The school’s Little Free Library was built by the parents of Zachary Meckley, a fifth-grader at Huntertown Elementary this past school. “…It’s for the community,” said Sarah Meckley. “And that’s what our club is geared towards. Our mission is to do for the community.” She and her husband, Shawn, are parent-sponsors of K-Kids. They joined their 11-year-old son for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the Huntertown’s Little Free Library on Tuesday, May 16. “It’s been a very special year for K-Kids,” said Huntertown guidance counselor and K-Kids faculty sponsor Bianca Bargo, prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We … were able to come together and do lots of cool service (projects) for our school. This is probably the (service project) I’m most excited about because it’s out here for everyone to enjoy,” she added. With the support of Versailles Kiwanis, the third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students in Huntertown’s K-Kids developed leadership skills through a variety of community service projects this past school year. They joined other students as servers during last December’s annual Kiwanis pancake breakfast fundraiser, said Bill Furlong, a Kiwanis Club of Versailles member and co-advisor of Huntertown’s K-Kids (with Bill Phelps). Furlong described Versailles Kiwanis Club’s sponsorship of student leadership clubs at Huntertown and other Woodford County schools in the community as an opportunity to “impact young lives.” “It’s all about making (students into) … good citizens,” he added. Huntertown’s Free Little Library was placed at a location on the school’s campus where it’s both visible and accessible to anyone in the community who wants to take a book or leave a book, Bargo told students at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “You take a book to read. You can return it just like a library. Or if you love it so much you want to keep it – obviously, you can. We would just ask that you would replace it with (another book),” she said during an interview. Painted “kindness rocks,” with inspiring messages from students, were left on the ground beneath the Free Little Library. “The rocks last forever just like the warm feelings in our hearts when we do something good,” said Bargo, before asking Principal Elaine Kaiser to tell students about Huntertown’s summer reading program on Wednesdays at the Woodford County Library. “We do a lot to encourage you to read,” said Kaiser. Huntertown Elementary started a “Take a Book, Leave a Book” initiative for students and their families two years ago. By opening a Little Free Library, Bargo said the entire community can get behind the school’s ongoing effort to promote reading in families. “We wanted to do something that lowered the gate between school and community further,” she added. As of November 2016, there were over 50,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 states and over 70 countries. The location of Huntertown’s Little Free Library will be added to a littlefreelibrary.org online map. The book exchanges come in different shapes and sizes, but according to the nonprofit Little Free Library’s website, they all build community and promote a love of reading. “Our son is a very avid reader,” said Shawn Meckley. “He goes to the Woodford County Library at any opportunity he gets. He goes to the bookstore at any opportunity he gets.” So it was an easy decision for his father to build the Little Free Library at Huntertown Elementary and “get the reading out there for the kids.” “Maybe,” added Bargo, “they don’t get to the library. Maybe they don’t get to go to Joseph Beth or other bookstores. So this is just a great way for them to be able to have agency in what they’re reading.”

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