FARMINGTON — Community members are invited to join Cascade Brook School students and staff in a “Community Read,” a week-long event planned for the first week of May.

The entire school including secretaries and janitors are currently reading a sweet, humorous tale of a young girl who develops “rules for life” for a brother with autism. With the help of a literacy grant from the Rotary Club, 400 copies of the book, “Rules,” written by Maine author Cynthia Lord were purchased with copies now available at the school and Farmington Public Library, said school librarian Patricia Flint and Volunteer Coordinator Pauline Rodrigue, organizers of the event.

This is the third activity geared around the school’s goal this year of improving school climate and respect, Flint said.

Along with a day of cooperative games and a day at Titcomb Ski slope planned for just having fun together, this week of activities highlights not only the importance of reading, but also the need for empathy for other students who face special challenges and are people with feelings, too, Rodrigue said.

While some Rotarians have agreed to read the book and participate in small student and community-member book discussions, the Rotarians are also preparing gifts for the school. The gift of a picnic table and umbrella will allow students to play games with students in the special education classes, Flint said. Rotarians are also seeking to donate appropriate games.

The Farmington Rotary under the leadership of President Pam West, whose main interest is literacy this year, made a $1,000 donation and it was matched by a Rotary district donation, said Rodrigue, who is also a Rotarian herself.

Highlights of the week include a day-long visit from the Maine author, Lord, from Thompson planned for May 3 when she’ll provide presentations about writing. During a breakfast and after-school session she will be available to sign copies of the book, Flint said.

Small student and community book discussions will be held on May 5. A parent panel discussion including Dr. Iris Silverstein, a local physician trained in treating learning disorders, and parents of children with special needs is planned for May 6, and on May 7 a sibling and student panel is planned.

Activities within the classrooms are also planned including some that will allow students to experience what it’s like to have a disability and how some students just can’t do things the way most students do, Rodrigue said.

Last year when local bookstore owner, Kenny Brechner, told Flint and Rodrigue about a similar Community Read program held at a Messalonskee school, they started dreaming, Flint said.

“All the pieces of the puzzle came together,” Rodrigue said. After receiving the grant in February, plans for activities around the book were started. With the purchase of the books, similar programs within the RSU 9 school district could be developed, she said.

Classes have started reading the book, a quick read, appropriate for all ages. It’s a tender, humorous coming-of-age novel with lots of empathy and learning of what it means to really be a friend, Rodrigue said.

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