“As a school district, we fight the summer reading lapse all the time. Kids come back to us having dropped reading levels all the time, so any way we can get books in their hands over the summer is better for us too because they’re coming back to us more prepared and ready to start the next school year,” said RCES Intermediate Principal Andy Thomann.
The book bus started last year. As part of RCCU’s summer reading program, the district partnered with Rotary Club of Richland County to staff the bus.
Last year, a standard yellow school bus was used. The school district provided the bus and stocked it with books, while members of the Rotary provided volunteers to work on the bus.
The service area included Musgrove Park and TrustBank on Main Street. The bus checked out approximately 850 books to 150 kids.
RCES discussed the initial success of the book bus with Superintendent Larry Bussard.
In the interest of keeping books in the hands of children during the summer months, Bussard decided to retire the old bus and donate it for use as the this year’s book bus.
“You can’t always get to a library. ... With the bus, we can take the books to them,” Thomann said.
There is no cost for students to check out books. They can check out three books at a time. When they bring the books back, they’re permitted to check out additional items.
If a child loses a book, then he or she is encouraged to simply bring a book donation to the school bus, and will thereby be permitted to continue to get books.
Community members are also encouraged to donate to the book bus.
“We’re hoping that it goes great this year ... people start to see it and start to recognize the bus, it might be an opportunity for people to donate in the future. The more money we have, the better the books we have,” Thomann said.
The Big Blue Book Bus will be serving Claremont and Noble in addition to Olney this year.
“Moving forward, we’ve just been trying to make it bigger and better. This year we’re expanding ... there’s really no limit to what we can do as long as we can staff it,” Thomann said.
People interested in donating to the Big Blue Book Bus may contact RCES to do so.
The improvements to this year’s book bus are the result of community partnership and donations including:
Mark Fitch and students of the OCC Collision Repair Technology class provided the paint job.
Rylan Rusk and students of the RCHS Building Trades class built the book shelves.
Terry’s Body Shop provided the space to paint the bus.
Tim Musser of Wal-Mart DC assisted to make possible a $2,500 grant to help pay for the paint, book shelves, and books.
Brian Woods of Woods Autobody donated time and materials for the bus's vinyl graphics.
RCCU and Rotary Club provided volunteers for service hours.
This year the book bus stops are provided by the Village of Noble, TNT Store of Claremont, City of Olney, Musgrove Park, and TrustBank.
If this year is a success, Thomann says they may expand the service area to more northern and southern areas of Richland County in future years.
The Big Blue Book Bus schedule is:
3-7 p.m. Tuesdays, May 24-June 21, at Musgrove Park;
3-7 p.m. Tuesdays, July 5-July 26, at TrustBank;
3:30-4:30 p.m. Thursdays, May 26-July 28, at Noble Village Park;
5-6 p.m. Thursdays, May 26-July 28, at TNT Store in Claremont;
noon-1 p.m. Saturday, June 11 at Olney City Park for BBBS Picnic.
We would like to thank Olney Daily Mail for reprint permission.