Literacy rates and ISTEP scores aren’t something that are usually on the minds of a middle-schoolers, but Zionsville Girl Scout Troop No. 1585 wants to help out their community.
The troop travels to Hattie B. Stokes Elementary School in Lebanon to conduct a book club for students.
“We read to the students and give them a snack,” Girl Scout Megan Havlin said. “After the kids leave, they get to keep books because a lot of times their parents aren’t able to afford books. We decided that these were kids who needed help, and their ISTEP scores were not as high as they should be.”
Troop Leader Tracy Pappas said there are usually 26 to 28 kindergarten and first-grade children for each session, and the children have been able to keep six books since they began the program last year.
“We originally did it to get the bronze award,” Girl Scout Kayla Trowbridge said. “Now we are helping more for fun. We received the grant from (United Way Youth as Resources) and wanted to keep doing it.”
Girl Scout Annie Hockel said the program is a good experience for them.
“We don’t want to leave them,” she said. “Whenever we leave, the kids get a sad look on their face and are like ‘Do we get to see you again?’ It’s always so sad, but we know we’ll be back to see them.”
All of the girls agreed that the hardest part was getting the children to calm down.
“They are tired and want their snack at the end of the day,” Gabby Quick said. “They are a little antsy, and their behavior is different than ours.”
Hockel said there are other things that are difficult with the program.
“It’s hard to see some of the same kids in the same grade two years in a row,” she said. “Sometimes I wondered if we helped them enough.”
Havlin said at first, the students were unsure of the program.
“When we first started reading to them, most of the students said they don’t like it because they can’t read,” she said. “So we’ll read to them, and then it’s like I can’t stop reading.”
The program is in just its second year, but the girls have grand aspirations for their project.
“We want to make a difference,” Lindsey Huber said. “We want them to like reading.”
Kreiger said they wanted to improve the community.
“We want to have a high community reading level, not just Zionsville,” she said. “We want to have a great reading community, and it feels good to make a difference.”
Annie Pappas said she hopes the group grows.
“I’d like to see it get bigger,” she said. “We could get more volunteers and really make it bigger than it is.”
Tracy Pappas echoed Annie’s thoughts.
“That is ultimately my goal for this,” she said. “My goal is for (the girls) to continue this project all the way through high school and make it bigger.”