Rite donates to preschool

Published 2:49 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Lynchburg Valley Scottish Rite recently donated $1,889 to assist Buckingham County Public Schools in establishing a language program at the county’s preschool.

The donation presentation came during a Masonic Lodge meeting in Buckingham.

According to Lynchburg Valley Scottish Rite Venerable Master Todd Cryster, the program will focus on teaching children good communication skills to enhance their ability to be successful as they enter primary school.

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The donation was well-received in Buckingham.

“As you know, we place much emphasis on supporting student learning in all subject matter,” Division Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead said. “Since our data suggests that some of our students struggle with certain reading skills at a higher level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, we feel the necessity to approach the challenges at many different levels within the school system.”

Snead said while the division recognizes success within the preschool program, “we felt a need to emphasize a more organized approach at the preschool that would dovetail into the newly developed reading programs at the primary and elementary schools.”

At the same time, he said, the division believes it can only be as successful as the support it receives from parents and the community.

On hand to accept the donation were Elementary School Principal Bryan Jackson, Primary School Principal Angela Patterson-Jones, Snead and Division Director of Student Services Thelma Llewellyn.

Cryster, who leads the Lynchburg Valley Scottish Rite — an organization affiliated with the Masonic Lodge — said the Rite has clinics that teach those with speech and language and learning disabilities, as well as endowments and grants to fund programs, such as the one in Buckingham.

“Buckingham is in our valley, so we have quite a few people who are in the Scottish Rite in Buckingham. So, it just seems like a natural good relationship to contact the Buckingham School System,” he said.

The organization’s Rite Care, Cryster said, is an overall strategy “ about childhood language programs.”

The Rite has multiple sub programs and initiatives under Rite Care “we pick to basically fund,” he said.

Cryster said Snead and school administrators were very receptive to it the program.

“We had such a great partnership, and so far we have just loved the interaction we’ve had with the Buckingham County staff. We hope for many years to come we continue this,” he said.

The early learning program puts children on a path to success, Cryster said, and “one of the things that we’re always trying to teach … is good communication skills, how to interact with each other and effectively communicate.”

Cryster said Project TALK, one centered on instilling good communication skills to young people, may expand to Buckingham.

“We want to give them them every advantage when they go and start school that they’re not left behind,” Cryster said. “I’m really enjoying … hearing the good interest and enthusiasm that’s being built (for the program).”

Snead said it was humbling and an honor for the division to receive the funds from the Scottish Rite “to put this new reading program into place at the preschool by yet another positive relationship with another organization in Buckingham County. It’s just one more example of our community coming together to honor kids and the commitment to their education.”