Ross University presents book donation to Cotton-Thomas Comprehensive School

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 18, 2011 – On Tuesday, May 17, representatives from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) visited the Cotton-Thomas Comprehensive School for a brief ceremony, following a campaign, in which representatives of the University organized a donation of approximately 2,000 books to the school’s library. Books were provided to the school to be used to begin their library collection.

Organizer, Ms. Michele-Ann Cardozo, RUSVM off-campus housing director, has been working on the project for approximately seven years. It began by accident, through volunteer work with Special Olympics; and then she began working with a child who had special needs who attended the school. The teachers at Cotton-Thomas School had been working with limited supplies and books to create a reading program for the students. As the teachers begin trying to encourage reading, they asked the volunteers to read to the students and begin working on student reading skills. Cardozo realized that books brought a smile to the child, as she would read the stories.

“I began reading to him on a frequent basis and he seemed to really enjoy it,” said Cardozo. “One day I came in and he picked-up the newspaper trying to read it himself.”

At that moment, she knew the key to building a reading program was to get more books for the students, so she contacted Ms. Clarice Cotton, former principal of the school and head of the Special Education Unit in St. Kitts, to find out how she could help. As the teachers continued to introduce the reading program, the need for the books was realized. The gathering of books began as she told her story to some of the incoming students at RUSVM. The interest grew and Cardozo began making requests to each incoming class; asking the students to consider donating books to the special needs children with the Cotton-Thomas School. Cardozo requested the students bring books for donating as they prepared to move to the island for their veterinary education.

Students have brought more than 2,000 books in that time and it has now expanded to toys, which enhance motor skills, crayons, paper andpencils. Student representatives from first, second and third semesters attended the presentation ceremony. Many of the students indicated that they had all, in some way, been touched by a special needs family member or friend which made them realizing the importance of the donation.

Jessia Cusmaviu, second semester student, said “I love reading and this was just another way to give back and encourage young people to read.”

The books collected were designed for the beginner or first grade reading level. A few of the books donated were dedicated to the school and autographed by the book’s author. The program continues to grow and the library itself is becoming more of a reality for the students. RUSVM will also be assisting the School in organizing and cataloging its library in the future.

“On behalf of the students and staff at Cotton-Thomas Comprehensive School, we are grateful for your kind and generous donation, for not just the books, but also so that the children can benefit from this experience,” remarked Michelle Jacobs, principal of Cotton-Thomas, during the presentation of the books.

Following the ceremony, RUSVM student representatives toured the library and had the opportunity to interact with the children. Ms. Clarice Cotton, education officer for special education, with the St. Kitts Ministry of Education was also present for the brief ceremony. Cotton, who was a part of the original organization of the program with Cardozo, was thankful for the donation.

“I have been involved in education for more than twenty years and without donations our libraries cannot grow. These books will help build the library for the Cotton-Thomas School. On behalf of the Ministry of Education, we are very appreciative of this continued effort by Ross University and the students,” said Cotton.

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