A Written Tribute
Wilbur Pence Honors Shooting Victims At Sandy Hook With Books
Posted: January 29, 2013
Julia Butler, librarian at Wilbur Pence Middle School, takes a photo of students on Monday as they hold books to be donated to the Sandy Hook Elementary School library. Each one of the 26 books selected commemorates a specific victim from the Dec. 14 Connecticut shooting.(Photos by Nikki Fox / DN-R)
Students at Wilbur Pence Middle School in Dayton signed the 26 books to be donated to Sandy Hook Elementary School in remembrance of the victims who died in the Dec. 14 Connecticut shooting.
Iran Bautista, 11, a sixth-grader at the Dayton school, picks out a book to hold for the group picture.
“This little girl loved orcas,” said Pollard, a substitute teacher at the school, leafing through a copy of “Granny’s Clan: A Tale of Wild Orcas,” a book chosen to pay homage to Jessica Rekos’ fascination with whales. The book is one of 26 representing the Connecticut shooting victims that will soon sit on the Sandy Hook library’s shelves thanks to a successful fundraiser at Wilbur Pence.
“[Jessica] had just been to SeaWorld,” added Holzberger, an eighth-grade English teacher. “She had wanted to go for a few years.”
Pollard picked up a story with a yellow cover about a drum-loving monkey called “Be Quiet, Mike!”
“Daniel would have loved that book,” Pollard said mournfully, referring to redheaded 7-year-old Daniel Barden, a drummer in a family band he formed with his siblings.
Even though neither Pollard nor Holzberger ever met Daniel — or heard about James Mattioli’s love of math or Catherine Hubbard’s passion for rescuing animals firsthand — they’ve gotten to know the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shooting as well as they can through research.
“I feel like I’ve gotten to know 26 individuals,” said Holzberger. “That has affected me more than anything.”
Through the books, the product of the fundraiser spearheaded by Holzberger and Pollard, the women are hoping people won’t forget the victims.
“[We chose books] based on the things they loved to do; on the things they looked forward to,” Holzberger said.
The Wilbur Pence school community celebrated on Monday the end of the successful book fundraiser that pulled in $1,650, far more than organizers anticipated or needed to purchase the 26 books.
The books will be accompanied by a $1,200 check for Sandy Hook, and Rick Knott of Williams Supply in Harrisonburg will pick up shipping costs.
“We are just very, very proud of our whole school and community,” Holzberger said.
The idea to donate books originated in December during a faculty meeting.
“I wanted something that would last, that would have significant meaning to the school,” said physical education teacher Carrie Flory, who came up with the idea. “[The books] will be a reminder ... that they will not be forgotten.”
Organizers also wanted to make sure that the Newtown community welcomed the gift. The plan to pick out and ship the books was put into action around the same time that officials in Newtown asked people to stop sending gifts because the town was bogged down with donations.
“They said they had dump truck loads of teddy bears,” said Holzberger, who got the thumbs up for the project from Sandy Hook’s own librarian. “We’re glad we went a different direction.”
Inside each of the books is the name of the victim the book was chosen to represent along with a memorial message and signatures of Wilbur Pence Middle School students.
“I was touched a lot just thinking about how you can get a phone call and think, is my child OK?” eighth-grader Hannah Cook, 14, said.
Added Katlyn Weaver, 13: “I thought it was something nice to do to support Sandy Hook.”
Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or firstname.lastname@example.org