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Longview elementary school opens a Ben Carson Reading Room

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Adam Holland
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A Longview elementary school making marked strides in academic improvement accepted another accolade Thursday with the opening of its Ben Carson Reading Room.

Ware Elementary is one of six schools in Texas to have one. They must contain at least 500 books and be open to students at all times. The Texas Spine and Joint Hospital made it possible through a $15,000 donation, according to Ware Elementary principal Sarah Sheppard.

The Reading Room program was started by Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon Benjamin Carson in the 1990s. Sheppard says he thought kids could get a leg up in life by simply reading for pleasure.

“You may never leave Longview, but you can pick up a book and go anyplace. You can be anybody. You can do anything. He [Carson] said that and my students need to hear that. They need to know that If they can dream it it actually can become a reality,” Sheppard said.

Ware Elementary has 775 students. Sheppard says the reading room is located in a wide open space at the top of the main stairway. She says it’s designed to be a safe, relaxing place. She thinks she might try meeting with students there informally.

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Credit Adam Holland
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Fifth grader Harrison Taylor finds a comfortable couch in the new Ben Carson Reading Room.

“I’m just thinking to go up there and visit with a student because of things that are going on outside of school and let him know, let’s just read a good book and pick up one that maybe relates to his situation, and we could use the room for that as well,” Sheppard said.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Thursday. It marked the opening of the 121st Ben Carson Reading Room nationwide.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' experience to Red River Radio having started out as a radio news reporter and moving into television journalism as a newsmagazine producer / host, talk-show moderator, programming director and managing producer and news director / anchor for commercial, public broadcasting and educational television. He has more recently worked in advertising, marketing and public relations as a writer, video producer and media consultant. In pursuit of higher learning, Chuck studied Mass Communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.