‘It takes a village’

Parents, alumni volunteer at school to benefit students, teach them importance of serving others


Photo by Carol Cox

Olivia and Samantha Taggart volunteer at the UIL district meet.

Iryna Hotsuliak, Feature's Editor

Volunteering is not only something that students are encouraged to do for college. The school also actively involves parents and other people to help.
The Book Buddy program assigns each volunteer a student that they will spend 30 minutes with once a week, helping them read a book of their choice. Fern Starnes started volunteering for the program in 2017.
“I am not a teacher, but the program did interest me,” she said, “so I became a Book Buddy.”

Starnes said she will continue being a part of the program as long as possible.

“In fact, it thrills my heart when my little buddy runs up and gives me a big hug,” she said.

You think you are helping the child, but they are really blessing your life

— Fern Starnes

Starnes said she will always support the kids in what they do.

“Kids work hard to participate so they deserve any support,” she said. “Remember our children are the future, so be a part of that future by volunteering.”
Vanessa Parkey has found her passion in volunteering as a Book Buddy due to her grown daughter who has dyslexia and who she learned to work with differently throughout her school path.
“When I signed up, I asked for a student that really struggled and may have learning disabilities,” she said. “I heard that this student struggled in his reading class. I have found, however, that he is very smart, and his reading has improved greatly since I first read with him.”
Parkey began volunteering with the Book Buddies this year when she heard about it through the Archer County News. She meets with a first grader each Tuesday morning in the library to read his AR book with him.
“I hope to make a difference with this student and others I may volunteer with next year,” she said. “As he grows, he’ll know that he has the confidence to continue reading and improving in his schoolwork.”
Samantha Taggart first started volunteering in 2008 when her daughters started school at Archer City Elementary.
“When I first started volunteering, it was with the elementary PTC and the book fair,” Taggart said. “As the girls got older, I volunteered with the sports and band booster club.”
Taggart said it made her realize how important these clubs were in raising money to support the children.
“Everyone needs to volunteer so they understand what all is involved in what their children do,” she said. “It makes me more aware of what my kids are doing and what is costs for the things that they do.”
Taggart also said there are never enough volunteers to help.
“I think every person should be made to volunteer at something within the school,” she said. “It makes them appreciate everything being done and it is important to show our children that you need to work to achieve.”
Karen and Neal Meeks started volunteering to work Fun Fridays which is a snack concession
stand at the beginning of this school year.
“Our daughter, Leslie Graham, said that the high school was planning to take over running this event for the coming school year to provide supplemental funds available to help various academic activities and groups as well as provide encouragement to the middle school and high school faculty,” Karen Meeks said. “We told her that we would be happy to help.”
Their job during Fun Fridays is to load up concession items, haul them to the foyer area of the cafeteria and set them out on display for customers.
“When selling snacks, we often also need to help the young kids figure out what they can buy with their money,” Karen Meeks said. “It helps us to connect with and understand the young people of this generation.”
She said her husband and she thoroughly enjoy their time working Fun Fridays and plan to continue.
“Although it is very fast paced at times, it is a delight to see and talk with the
students of all ages,” she said. “Additionally, we get the added benefit of seeing our granddaughter and her friends.”
They have been supporters of the school for 40 years.
“We love to help and support all ACISD employees because we know they are the support
system for our most valuable possessions—our children,” she said. “We all know it takes a village.”