EE Revives Cherished Tradition: First Graders Walk Down to Elbridge Free Library for Library CardsElbridge Elementary is delighted to announce the revival of a beloved tradition that brings joy to the hearts of both students and the local community. Throughout the month of October, first graders made their way to the Elbridge Free Library to receive their library cards. This tradition, which began in 2008, was temporarily discontinued in 2017 due to the tragic loss of a beloved teacher. Now, after five years of absence, it has been being joyously reinstated.
In 2008, first grade teacher Mike Gallagher started the tradition by walking his class the 0.3 miles down E. Main St. to Elbridge Free Library, so students could not only receive their library cards, but also tour the building and gain a comfortability within the rows of books. Mr. Gallagher did this every year up until his untimely passing in 2015. The first-grade teachers then did their best to keep the tradition going in the subsequent two years but was unfortunately discontinued after 2017 due to multiple staff changes and no one being able to coordinate the outing.
Mr. Gallagher believed the outing served as a rite of passage for his young scholars, introducing them to the vast world of literature and igniting their passion for books and knowledge. He believed that yes, the classroom was the epicenter of his students’ educational world, but there was much to be learned outside the classroom, as well. Besides making the annual trek down the street to the library, he loved taking his classes outside to the “reading tree”, where he would happily read to them under the warm, gleaming sun. A garden has since been memorialized there in his honor.
The coordinated outings were met with excitement from both students and parents, many of whom had fond memories of the tradition. As the first graders toured the library and got to meet its official mascot, Franklin the tortoise, the atmosphere was filled with a sense of accomplishment and anticipation for the adventures that awaited them within the pages of the books at Elbridge Free Library.
“I’m so happy that our school has brought back this very cherished tradition,” said Elbridge Elementary secretary Peggy Bennink, who fondly remembers her son engaging in the outing over a decade ago. “Mr. Gallagher was an adored and kindly generous person; he would gift each of his students with reading chairs. His legacy of promoting reading and a sense of wonder blissfully lives on.”
The revival of the library card tradition serves as a testament to Jordan-Elbridge Central School District’s commitment to nurturing a love for reading and fostering a strong sense of community. It pays tribute to the memory of Mr. Mike Gallagher, a teacher who left an indelible mark on the hearts of his students and colleagues.