Pea Ridge students show care for others with book fair kindness

PEA RIDGE — Lilly Whitlow put the principle into practice and went above and beyond to bless some of her fellow students at Pea Ridge Middle School.

Lilly, who was in sixth grade, had earned money working for her grandmother in Florida recently.

“When I got back to school on Tuesday, there was a book fair,” Lilly said, explaining that she stops by the special education classroom daily to say hello to the students. “I noticed they don’t get many things so I decided to take each one of them to the book fair and let them pick out anything they wanted and I bought it for them.”

“This week has been book fair week,” said Charity Fingerhut, library/media specialist at the Pea Ridge Middle School Library. “It was also Read Across America Week and the culmination of the one-book-one-school novel. We read ‘Out of My Mind’ by Sharon Draper.

“It’s been really rewarding to see them not only enjoy the book, but to take the things I wanted them to get out of that book and apply it to their lives by showing kindness and empathy to people , that might be a little different from them.” said Fingerhut.

Lilly said she couldn’t really isolate what made her say, “They all have a heart. They’re no different than anyone else.

“They’re all the same. I don’t think about their disability — we’re all the same,” Lilly said. She recalled one time another student was unkind to one of her friends in the special needs program and said she stood up to him and corrected him. She said it is important to take care of each other. She said the lessons in the book proved her point about caring for others.

Lilly said her mom was super proud of her and told her whole family about it.

Mason Clinton, a friend, said Lilly did a good deed.

“Lilly came to the book fair on Wednesday with one of our students with extraordinary things,” she said. “I noticed she bought the student a book. Then she came back with another and another.”

“She helped them sort it out and be a good friend,” Fingerhut said. “It was so sweet and special – you can tell she genuinely cares for them.”

The book is about a 10-year-old girl who has cerebral palsy, who shares her thoughts, dreams and frustrations.

“We love the one-book, one-school book project that Mrs. Fingerhut worked so hard on — ‘Out of My Mind’ — that we can see it happening in things they’re learning,” Principal Mindy Bowlin said. “This is just one example of the amazing things she has done to help others who are different and unique from her.”

Lilly, 12, is the daughter of Klassy and Michael Whitlow, granddaughter of the late John Erwin, Gratia Erwin and great-granddaughter of Judy Erwin. Other grandparents and great-grandparents are Sheryl Peters, David Peters, Susan Morrison, Eric Whitlow, Amanda Whitlow, Joyce Parson, Jim Parson, Kristal McCarty and Larry Smith.

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