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Grand Coteau Elementary students receive new books in honor of late educator

Posted at 5:19 PM, Nov 13, 2020

Students at Grand Coteau Elementary School will soon go home with a brand new library, thanks to a generous donation from the Kiwanis Club of Baton Rouge and the late Noel Hammett.

Hammett, a NUNU Arts and Culture Collective member and life-long educational researcher died on October 16 after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in July. Hammett and his wife, Terri, were in the process of buying a home in Arnaudville when he was diagnosed. His diagnosis didn't stop him from helping others.

Hammett was the creator of a Kiwanis Baton Rouge iniative called "Reinforcing the Rewards of Reading to Build a Better Baton Rouge," or the "3Rs for 3BR" program. Hammett believed that the number of books in a child's home was the greatest indicator of academic success, so he pushed to provide children with books they could take home and keep as their own.

As a result of the initiative, more than 40,000 books were donated to Baton Rouge children. Just prior to Hammett's diagnosis he proposed to the Baton Rouge Kiwanis Club a donation of books to Arnaudville children from Pre-K to 2nd grade.

"He loved the people, the food, the art, the French language, and the culture of the area," his wife explained.

Friday was the special day, when Grand Coteau Elementary School Principal Brandon Bobb received the Kiwanis Club's donation of 500 books. The books, given in memory of Hammett, will be distributed to the students to take home so they can start or add to their own personal libraries.

Bobb explained why he's so thankful for the generous donation of books.

"Just to share the joy of reading. Because when you read, you're a life-long learning. You're going to be a productive citizen," he said. "I'm so excited and happy that they could do this for us and making an opportunity for our kids to read and continue to learn."

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