NORTH PROVIDENCE – School may be out for the summer, but on a hot July day, many students in North Providence could be found working diligently on their summer assignments at the Ricci Middle School library on Wednesdays.
Librarian Barbara DaSilva has been opening the library doors once a week during the summer for several years, providing students with a safe place to work on summer reading and math and having their questions answered. DaSilva said she started the informal, volunteer-led program when she noticed several students returning to school from summer vacation without having completed their summer work.
“Some students didn’t have access to the recommended books during the summer. Many students struggled with their math packets and weren’t able to complete them. I asked for permission to open the library during the summer, and it’s a pretty busy place,” DaSilva said. “The students are able to check their books out and work on their assignments. We have high school students who come in and volunteer to help the younger kids. This week there were a lot of questions concerning the reading assignment, so one of our English teachers, Kim Walsh, came in to help. Science teachers Kim Hardman and Kim DiTusa are with me nearly every week,” DaSilva said.
On a recent Wednesday, a group of students were working together diligently on an online math problem, answering questions for one another away from the distractions they’d face at home. The group said they had been meeting at the North Providence Public Library for the same reason until they heard about the program at Ricci. For the incoming 6th-graders, the program gives them an early look at their new school, and an opportunity to grow accustomed to its halls.
The response this year has been particularly strong, with more students coming out than in years past.
“There’s getting to be a lot of people … interest is definitely growing,” said Aidan Iacobucci, a 10th-grader who has volunteered as a math tutor with the program since last summer.