Longfellow students receive books to remember principal
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Longfellow students receive books to remember principal

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  • Heidi Hurst/Mesa Public Schools

David Christensen And Students

As principal David Christensen retires this year, he leaves behind a literacy legacy for his Longfellow Elementary students.

When David Christensen heard a committee had formed to plan his retirement party after 12 years as principal at Longfellow Elementary, he had a brilliant idea. Christensen approached a committee member and requested that instead of retirement gifts, he’d like each of his students to be given a book of their own.

Longfellow students receive books to remember principal DavidChristensenRetiresHP

Longfellow Elementary Principal David Christensen giving a book to a student. Photo courtesy Tim Hacker/Mesa Public Schools

Longfellow staff members applied for a Reading Is Fundamental, Inc., grant on behalf of Christensen. Elementary schools with a free and reduced lunch rate of 80 percent or higher are eligible.

Longfellow was awarded a $1,707 RIF grant, funded by corporate donor Boys & Girls Club of Magic Valley in Twin Falls, Idaho. The grant provided 853 books for students. On May 8, Christensen and student council went room-to-room at the school to deliver books.

Each book’s inside cover features a bookplate with a falcon and the inscription, “In honor of Principal Christensen’s service to Longfellow, 2003-2015, this book now belongs to _____.”

Christensen was heartened by student reactions to his farewell gifts.

“For many of the students this was a treasure,” he shares. “To have a book they could call their own was exciting. Their faces were full of joy and gratitude, and many began reading the book right away. It was a satisfying experience to see the happiness in their eyes.”