Hol­land Fam­ily Foun­da­tion funds 2 more Ben Car­son Read­ing Rooms

The Catoosa County News - - EDITORIALS & OPINION - By Ta­mara Wolk Cor­re­spon­dent

Six months ago, Candy Car­son, wife of fa­mous pe­di­atric neu­ro­sur­geon Ben Car­son, came to Ca­toosa County to cel­e­brate the open­ing of a Ben Car­son read­ing room at Cloud Springs El­e­men­tary School. On Mon­day, Oct. 22, she re­turned for rib­bon-cut­tings at two more read­ing rooms — one at West Side El­e­men­tary and one at Tiger Creek El­e­men­tary.

The read­ing rooms were funded by the Hol­land Fam­ily Foun­da­tion through the Car­son Schol­ars Fund. The Hol­land Fam­ily Foun­da­tion chose the schools where it wanted to see read­ing rooms. The Ben Car­son Foun­da­tion of­fered guid­ance, in­spi­ra­tion and some ma­te­ri­als for the read­ing rooms, but in­di­vid­ual schools choose their dec­o­rat­ing themes and set up com­mit­tees to choose dé­cor, fur­nish­ings and books. When pos­si­ble, Mrs. Car­son at­tends open­ing cer­e­monies, as she’s done for the three re­cent read­ing rooms in Ca­toosa County schools.

The read­ing room at West Side El­e­men­tary fea­tures a for­est and camp­ing theme. Chil­dren can read any of more than 500 news books curled up on rus­tic chairs around a faux camp­fire or tucked into a tent or even in­side a tree trunk.

The read­ing room at Tiger Creek El­e­men­tary is en­tered through a cas­tle gate­way guarded by a me­dieval knight in ar­mor and also fea­tures more than 500 new books for stu­dents. The school’s me­dia spe­cial- ist, Holly Ca­puti, dressed as a book fairy for the oc­ca­sion, her skirt made of the pages of an old book and a book in­cor­po­rated into her wings.

Mrs. Car­son shared with chil­dren at West Side and Tiger Creek the story of the dif­fer­ence read­ing made in her hus­band’s life, and Ben Car­son shared de­tails of the same story by way of a video pre­sen­ta­tion. Car­son told how his mother was not happy about his poor per­for­mance in school. Her so­lu­tion was to strictly limit the amount of tele­vi­sion her two sons could watch and to re­quire them to read two books a week from the pub­lic li­brary and write re­ports on them.

Car­son said his mother’s in­sis­tence on read­ing took him from a fail­ing stu­dent to the top of his class and opened whole new worlds for him.

Ca­toosa County now boasts three of 180 Ben Car­son read­ing rooms in 22 states. “We were happy to do this,” said Brice Hol­land. “I hope it makes a dif­fer­ence for the chil­dren.”

/ Ca­toosa County Cham­ber of Com­merce

West Side El­e­men­tary School ded­i­cated its new Ben Car­son read­ing room, funded by the Hol­land Fam­ily Foun­da­tion, on Oct. 22. Back row, from left: Ca­toosa Com­mis­sioner Jeff Long, Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Earl Gray, pho­tog­ra­pher Mike Key, Ca­toosa Cham­ber ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant Shirley Watts. Front row, l-r: Ca­toosa Com­mis­sioner Ray John­son, Lynn Hol­land, Candy Car­son, Brice Hol­land, Ca­toosa Com­mis­sion Chair­man Steven Henry, Ca­toosa Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Martha Eaker.

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