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Literacy Express… promoting literacy throughout the Kershaw County School District

Posted: October 13, 2016 5:10 p.m.
Updated: October 14, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Photo by Anne Lemieux/

Pictured are students at the South Carolina State Read-In in April (left to right) Ansley Puckett, Emily Seay, Elizabeth Talbert and Hannah Griggs.

The day you “graduate” fifth grade, you never think of going back. Never do we have to walk through those doors again, or in the hallways. No more being an elementary kid!  Bigger and better things lie ahead and there is no turning back. But oh, how things can change over time…

It is called giving back. Each student at Lugoff-Elgin High School has the chance to return to their elementary school a couple of times throughout the school year in order to promote something they love—reading.  The Literacy Express is a program at Lugoff-Elgin High School that was created and directed by our librarian, Anne Lemieux. Through the program, we as students have the chance to enter those familiar hallways of our elementary schools once again, and read to those students who are sitting where we used to. While this program promotes literacy, it means much more to all involved.

I remember being a student in Mrs. Sara Fakoury’s first grade class ten years ago, and having a group of “elves” (high school students from LE) come and read with us right before Christmas break. It was such a surprise, and the entire class was in awe of the “big kids” who had given up their time to spend the morning reading with us. Out of all of my elementary experiences I have, this memory continues to stick out as one of my most memorable. It was at that point in time, I believe, that my love for reading began. It took just one “big kid” when I was younger to “give back” in order for me to find my love for reading, and later writing. Those kids, now adults, had such a big impact on my life, and now my fellow classmates and I have the opportunity to do the same. 

Today marks the fourth Literacy Express trip I have been able to attend. I love going and sharing my love for reading with younger students, in hopes that I will leave the same, lasting impact on them that those teenagers had on me some 10 years ago. It brings great joy to me, and from the smiles on those innocent faces it does the same, if not more, for them. I especially enjoy the time I get to spend with each class after I finish a read aloud where they can ask me questions. It excites me, too, when they inquire about the books I am reading and/or enjoy. They are interested in me, a high school student who once was sitting right where they are. That right there goes to show an impression, a connection if you will, has been established.

Literacy Express allows high school students a chance to give back to the school and teachers that helped get us where we are today. I love being able to go back into my old classrooms and use the skills those teachers taught me some years ago. It feels good to be able to catch up and then leave knowing that they are proud of the young lady I am today. 

Mrs. Lemieux and her assistants plan more events for us than just going to the elementary schools, though. This past April, I attended the State Read-In at the South Carolina State House with the Literacy Express group. That day we teamed up with Doby’s Mill Elementary and rode a bus to a packed State House grounds. After we unloaded the bus, we grabbed signs, poms poms, and hands of small children, and participated in a parade. We had a blast teaming up with other schools from South Carolina, Cocky, and yes, my personal favorite, The Clemson Tiger, to promote literacy around our state. After the parade there were speeches, books read aloud, and then we enjoyed a picnic while we read our personal books. It was truly amazing to see students, of all ages, throughout our state enjoy reading!

Today, we are participating in an all-girls event. Around 15 girls from my school, including myself, are going to a fun day at Zemp Stadium in Camden. Our day will include reading books, playing games, passing out tattoos, bracelets, and other things in order to promote literacy to a few classes from each elementary and middle school within the Kershaw County School District. While this event is not solely reading, it is a very fun day and easy way to promote literacy.

Boys, do not feel left out!  On October 27, the boys will have their own event, too. This is called “Real Men Read.” There are also other reading events throughout the year that involve our football players and cheerleaders.  Even Ginger, our literacy dog, gets involved every once and a while. At LE, literacy goes well beyond our classrooms.  It is about community. It is about giving back.

I would like to personally thank the “elves” that came to read to me in first grade ten years ago. I also want to thank my previous teachers for all the lessons, both academic and life, that you taught me throughout the years. Thank you to the elementary aged children for allowing me to read to you. Through the Literacy Express, I have been able to combine my love for reading and children. For that, Mrs. Lemieux, I want to thank you for doing so much at our school to promote literacy. It amazes me how much you love what you do, and I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given that will leave a lasting impact on so many young children in our community.

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