Shaker High School sophomore Caroline Kremer has not spent her summer vacation lightly, but with a mission to get her fellow students cracking—specifically book spines.
Inspired by North Colonie’s Teen Summer Symposium on human rights, Kremer came up with The Book Shelf, a fundraiser to collect and give books to the 10 percent of North Colonie Central School District’s students living below the poverty line. Her project has already amassed 800 collected books, to give to kids this holiday season in kindergarten through sixth grade.
“I heard the statistic that 10 percent of the students in the North Colonie School District are under the poverty level, which I thought was crazy,” Kremer said.
She learned the statistic at the district’s human rights symposium, which took place at the New York State United Teachers’ headquarters in Latham this July. She was one of 60 students from Capital District schools to attend.
“The whole focus of (the symposium) was awareness, but also providing students with strategies to go out and make a difference. The theme of that was the power of one,” said North Colonie Superintendent of Schools Joseph Corr.
Kremer embraced that theme. She came up with the idea for The Book Shelf at the symposium, met with teachers there to get the ball rolling, and then developed the logo and website for the fundraiser within one week.
Since families who are below the poverty line have difficulty getting necessities, like food or clothing, books become a luxury item, Kremer said, which is why she decided to concentrate on books.
“I think that books are really important to a child’s development,” said Kremer. “Studies say that kids who read more when they’re younger, they go on to do better in school, so (books) can impact their life more in the long run.”
Kremer has gotten help from Eric Phillips, North Colonie technology supervisor, to provide the younger students with bookshelves. Phillips will build the one-shelf bookshelves with his students in a technology class this fall. Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Skeals will reach out to district families below the poverty line once the holiday season rolls around to see who would like the books.
Kremer, however, has not gone unrecognized for her efforts. At an August North Colonie Board of Education meeting, Kremer became the first student recognized in the districts new feature, “North Colonie Kids Care.”
The feature recognizes individual students who have stepped up to make a difference on their own.
“We want to go out and recognize or students who, in various activities and acts of good will and service to our community, are actually making a difference… and really living the power of one,” said Corr.
He said oftentimes, school district officials can get caught up in the paperwork-side of things, but the Board of Education members loved to hear about student achievement.
Once a month, the board will recognize one student for “North Colonie Kids Care.” Students can be nominated for the feature.
“We don’t want to lose sight of why we’re all here,” said Corr of the school district.
Corr said Kremer was recognized as the first feature because of how she was inspired by the human rights symposium and took action to help students in poverty.
“She was moved by the fact that she didn’t realize we have ten percent of students living in North Colonie” below the poverty line, Corr said. “That knowledge galvanized her into action.”
Kremer’s fundraiser is still ongoing, although she said the concentration is now on cash donations to buy grade-specific books. For more information on Kremer’s fundraiser, The Book Shelf, go to thebookshelffundraiser.weebly.com.