Fishburne Cadets Read to Area Kindergartners

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Librarian Tracy Gunn oversees a room full of smiles at William Perry Elementary

Librarian Tracy Gunn oversees a room full of smiles at William Perry Elementary as Fishburne Military School Cadets read with her kindergarteners.

There were smiling faces of all ages at William Perry Elementary School’s library yesterday afternoon. Mrs. Tracy Gunn, the school librarian, had a very special treat for her kindergartners. She had invited Cadets from Fishburne Military School to come spend reading time with them.

In all, 19 kindergartners had an opportunity to share their favorite books with 11 Fishburne Cadets who had come to read and color with them.

Gunn noted that the event came to life when she and her husband, Alec Gunn, Fishbuurne’s Commandant of Cadets, were discussing ways “to inspire a love for reading in beginning readers, to show our students more reading models and to provide an opportunity for our children to “show off ” their new reading skills to older students.”

An added benefit, she explains, is “to encourage community relationships between Waynesboro’s City Schools and Fishburne Military School, which is such a part of Waynesboro’s history.”

Whatever the reasons, the reaction from this group children was wildly enthusiastic.  Gunn said that, immediately after the cadets left the library, the children let loose with a chorus of approval, saying: “Mrs. Gunn? Can they come back A LOT?”; “Yeah, I want them to come back!”; “Me too!”; “I want them to come back every day!”; “YEAH! They are soooooooo handsome!” “He said he liked my book, Mrs. Gunn!”

“The cadets read to several students with disabilities,” Gunn went on to explain, “and I have NEVER seen those students so engaged as when the cadets were reading to them.”

As far plans for any future visits from FMS, Mrs. Gunn notes, “OH…I certainly hope so. If I have anything to say about it, most definitely! [The Cadets were] so giving and encouraging with the little ones!”

“This is a great experience for our boys, as well,” Commandant Alec Gunn smiled, “it’s an opportunity for them to show a different side of themselves and to really enjoy passing along knowledge in a nurturing way. I think everyone involved came away a little better for having had this experience.”

Fishburne Military School is the oldest and smallest of all military schools for boys in Virginia. Its college-prep curriculum is built upon the structure of an Army JROTC program. Boasting a 100% college-acceptance rate for the past 10 consecutive years, FMS has also been designated as a JROTC Honor Unit with Distinction and may nominate qualified candidates to the United States Service Academics. Fishburne hosts one of only four Summer JROTC programs in the nation, accredited by US Army Cadet Command.