The gifts from a unique wedding registry landed in the hands of ninth graders at Shroder High School.
Instead of the newlyweds opening gifts with wrapping paper strewed everywhere, students unpacked boxes of books with much excitement and smiles on their faces.
The nuptials of a Lexington, KY, couple were set for New Year’s Eve 2018 for a small, traditional wedding. The gift registry, however, was far from the usual wish list of pots, pans, fine China and kitchen gadgets.
"We had a registry, but it just didn’t have any wedding stuff on it," said Brooke Cronin. Instead this couple opted to give back to some schools across the country. Shroder High School was one of them.
So, you still may be wondering how this all came to be.
Cronin, who now works for a non-profit, was a teacher for 13 years in Lexington, KY. One of her colleagues was Erin Sienicki. Last year, Sienicki moved to Cincinnati and joined the teaching staff at Shroder School.
When Cronin was planning her wedding, she contacted her former colleague and asked what she needed for her classroom. Cronin explained to Sieniki that she was forgoing wedding gifts in favor of creating a registry of items for teachers.
Sienicki didn’t want classroom supplies. Instead, she requested books for her students, all 140 of them.
Sienicki created a list of 40 books. Each student was permitted to select three. The books, Sienicki said, were not for the school library but for each student to keep.
For weeks, the students anxiously awaited the arrival of their books.
And finally on May 9, Cronin and another former teacher colleague made the drive from Lexington to Cincinnati to deliver the 500 books to Sienicki's students.
The students unloaded the boxes of books from Cronin's van and hauled them to Sienicki’s second floor classroom. They unpacked the books and stacked them neatly on some tables against the wall.
Then Sienicki passed out a plastic grocery bag and asked each student to fill their bag with the three books they ordered.
"It is so fulfilling to give something to her (Sienicki) and her kids," Cronin said.
"Access to print is one of the strongest indictors of a student’s future success, so this is an exciting opportunity for my students," Sienicki said.
As the students grabbed their books and sat down, many were quietly leafing through the pages.
The three books Aniah Gaulden selected included "Dear Martin," "The Boy in the Black Suit" and "Orphan Monster Spy." "Dear Martin" was the first book on her list to read.
Another student, Selah Williams, was grateful for the book donation and was confident it would have a big impact. "I feel it will make us more excited to read," she said.
When the bell rang at the end of the class period, students grabbed their bag of books and Sienicki announced, "Tomorrow we will not do any assignments, it will be a day of reading."
Students left with a smile on their face and so did Cronin.