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Sterling Heights, Troy, Warren

Susick is ‘booked’ for the summer

July 30, 2014

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On July 22 at Milverton Park in Troy, Susick Elementary School media specialist Denise Shepitka places all the books out for the children to see. Pictured with her are Akhilan Ganeshkumar, 7, and entering second grade, left; Michael LaPrise, 7, also going into second grade, center; and his 5-year-old brother William LaPrise, a kindergarten student this fall.

TROY — Susick Elementary School students in Warren Consolidated Schools are curling up with good books this summer.

For the third straight year, students have been invited to participate in the Susick Bookmobile. School staff and the Troy Police Department have teamed up for the bookmobile, which periodically makes runs through the community to drop off free books.

The bookmobile is actually a Troy Police Department van driven by school resource police officer Gail Jasak. When the vehicle stops at its various destinations, Jasak, Susick Principal Pat Cavanaugh and the school’s media specialist, Denise Shepitka, step out and set up a display of brand-new books. Students can then pick out two titles, which Shepitka had ordered through Scholastic, the children’s book publisher.

“The whole purpose is to encourage our kids to read through the summer,” Cavanaugh said. “Our media specialist has done a wonderful job providing these books through Scholastic.”

Six bookmobiles will be held during the summer, rain or shine, at four locations: Susick, Milverton Park, Brinston Park and outside the Canterbury Square Apartments clubhouse. The bookmobile is available to Susick students at each grade level, including children who are entering kindergarten this fall to students who just exited fifth-grade. Students choose the books they want.

“The Chocolate Touch,” “Stink and the Midnight Zombies Walk,” “Iggy Pig’s Beach Day” and the “Golden Cadillac” were among the many titles offered at the most recent bookmobile held July 22. Jasak provided students and their parents with safety activity booklets and pamphlets.

“It’s a great program. It’s my first year doing it with them,” Jasak said. She and the students have gotten to know each other this year through a variety of activities, including when Jasak read to them during March Is Reading Month.

Shepitka said that Title I funding is set aside to purchase the bookmobile items. She orders books every month throughout the school year to prepare for summer.

“I try to get a good selection. I try to get all genres ... science fiction, mysteries and picture books for the younger kids,” she said. “So far we have serviced close to 200 kids this summer. Reading, to me, is the key to knowledge and to be a lifelong learner. Without reading, you’re not a learner throughout your life.”

While the books are free, the Susick students must do a little bit of work to receive them. With each pair of books, the students also receive a graphic organizer and are required to complete a writing assignment due at the next book visit.

For one assignment, students wrote a “story train” in which they were asked what happened first, next and last in the book. Another writing mission was penning a reflection piece describing the beginning, middle and end of the story.   

The bookmobile is one of many ways staff encourages reading. As one example, the school’s Parent Teacher Organization purchased new books this year for the students. Before school ended in June, each student picked four books to keep.

The bookmobile has three dates scheduled next month: Aug. 6, 13 and 26. The bookmobile travels from site to site, staying at each location about 15-20 minutes. To participate, students must have a parent or guardian present.

The Aug. 6 bookmobile will arrive at 10 a.m. at Milverton Park; 10:20 a.m. at Canterbury; 10:40 a.m. at Brinston; and 11 a.m. at Susick. On Aug. 13 and 26, the crew will arrive at 6 p.m. at Milverton; 6:20 p.m. at Canterbury; 6:40 p.m. at Brinston; and 7 p.m. at Susick.

For more information, email Pat Cavanaugh at

About the author

Staff Writer Maria Allard covers the school districts of Center Line, Fitzgerald, Van Dyke, Warren Consolidated and Warren Woods, and Macomb Community College for the Warren Weekly newspaper. She also covers northeast Detroit, the City of Harper Woods and the Harper Woods District Schools for the Advertiser Times newspaper, and the City of Grosse Pointe Woods and the Grosse Pointe Public Schools System for the Grosse Pointe Times newspaper. Allard has worked for C&G Newspapers since 1995, and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University.

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