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‘The students will never forget this’

A new tradition at Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) is paying dividends for the future leaders of our community.

Rather than handing out dictionaries to second-grade students from the Heart of Virginia this year, the college decided to change it up — and rightly so.

Last week, more than 1,100 students from Prince Edward, Cumberland and Buckingham — along with those from surrounding school divisions — attended the inaugural Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash, offering each child a Dr. Seuss book of their choice.

The event afforded a visit to a college campus —  a first for most of the kids — and offered them a new foundation of community, seeing and meeting new faces from other county schools and adults from H-SC.

Organizers hope to expand the event next year, including students who are homeschooled and in church-based education.

“This is much larger than anything we’ve ever done before. We used to just go to Prince Edward County and do it in their library. (Lesley) Stimpert is a children’s librarian, so she kind of wanted to do something different,” said H-SC Director of College Events Cameron Cary, who was in charge of coordinating the event.

As a librarian, Lesley, the wife of H-SC President Dr. Larry Stimpert, sees the impact in Dr. Seuss books over dictionaries.

“They gave out dictionaries to second-graders, and that’s been going on until Larry started his presidency,” Lesley said. “I’m a librarian, and we didn’t want to give dictionaries anymore. We wanted to give books that (students) can actually take and read and reread and get excited about literacy. So, this is all new because of that.”

The event at H-SC is one that should be embraced by the community and one we all should be thankful for.

“The students will never forget this,” Buckingham County Primary School Principal Angela Patterson-Jones said. “I want the students to experience and be exposed to these wonderful things. It is a powerful thing for young children to see a college campus.”