Allison Elementary in Pomona, CA rolled out the “green carpet” for their Ben Carson Reading Room opening Tuesday, March 25. The community came out in full force to help celebrate the special day dedicated to reading. Guests were greeted by student ambassadors and escorted past balloon-filled hallways to the sunny celebration area. School board president, Celeste Polanco, opened the program followed by a cheery welcome from principal Elizabeth Valenzuela. She acknowledged the strong showing from the Pomona Unified School District Board Members and thanked the Wickstrom family for their donation of the Ben Carson Reading Room to the school.
Superintendent Richard Martinez shared a bi-lingual inspirational address to the student body and the guests in the audience. He encouraged students to consider reading as their job and to keep their sights on college in the future. Next, sixth grader Deja Love read a passage from Gifted Hands. In the special reading she shared the moment when Ben Carson “the class dummy” was able to correctly answer a question in science class. It was life altering for young Ben and was the perfect segue to bring Dr. Carson to the podium.
Dr. Carson shared his grade school stories and lessons with the Allison students in the audience. They learned how difficult it was to be considered the dumbest kid in the whole school. He shared some of his favorite books as a young man like Chip the Dam Builder. Dr. Carson encouraged the children to prepare for their futures by taking their education and reading seriously. He closed by sharing a story that demonstrates the immense capacity of the human brain. Principal Valenzuela celebrated a number of reading milestones and then called Alejandro Carlos forward to assist with the ribbon cutting. Alejandro is Allison Elementary’s top reader, so it was only fitting that he should cut the ribbon.
The Ben Carson Reading Room immediately captured their interest with an enormous, colorful mural of Dr. Carson and his THINK BIG philosophy on the outside wall. Once inside the substantial room, they saw hundreds of brand-new books displayed in colorful bins. Themed carpets with occupations, maps and languages set the tone for reading clusters around the room. There was even a full-sized cushioned reading loft in one corner of the room. As guests poured into the reading haven, students grabbed books and gushed with excitement. Dr. Carson ended his visit with promises from Allison Elementary children that they would cherish this exceptional gift from the Wickstrom family. This reading room was sponsored in loving memory of Dean T. Wickstrom.