Gary Arbaugh, sales and service agent for The Auto Club Group, presents a $1,900 check to St. Matthew the Evangelist School librarian Anna Chou Dec. 20 following a school Mass. The grant will be used to fund books and materials for the school.

A second grant from the Cornhusker Motor Club Foundation will expand the reading skills around the St. Matthew the Evangelist School community.

The school received $1,900 Dec. 20 to purchase a book, “Wishtree” by Katherine Applegate for the entire school to participate in reading.

The money was donated by Cornhusker Motor Club Foundation, a nonprofit funded through AAA that provides Nebraska Education Grants annually for schools for education programs or equipment.

Applying for the grant for the second time was St. Matthew’s librarian and media technology teacher Anna Chou.

The school was awarded $1,800 in April for STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and math) equipment, and Chou wanted the reading grant to focus on literature while also bringing some fun for the community.

“We’re going to be doing all-community reads, called One School, One Book, for St. Matthew,” Chou said.

“Each family will be getting a copy of the book. It’s a book that really has an appeal across grade levels and it’s one that a lot of communities have had success with.”

The book centers on the narrator, an oak tree named Red, who watches over a community where people tie wishes around the tree’s branches.

The kindergarten through eighth grade families will all receive the book, and spend about a month in late winter/spring reading at home. An audiobook will also be available for families to utilize.

Additional copies will also be open to those in the community outside of schools and families.

Chou said teachers can also incorporate the book into their curriculum with certain activities.

“I’ll be doing some things in the library related to the book and its message of community and inclusivity and acceptance,” Chou said.

Along with reading the book among the community, the school will also do other activities centered on “Wishtree.”

“We’ll be creating our own wish tree during that time period and maybe incorporating our (STEM-related equipment),” Chou said. “Each family will also receive a sapling from the Arbor Day Foundation so they can plant.

“We’ll be having some experts from Fontenelle Forest come in and meet with the students and talk about trees and why they’re so important.”

Chou said she’s looking forward to the grant and focusing on literacy, as well as incorporating April’s STEM equipment.

“The book is a great book and it’s really about what reading can do for the community,” she said.

“If everybody reads the same book, parents and kids can talk about it, siblings can talk about it, even people who are coming to events. It’s creating that community piece.”

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