AUSTIN (KXAN) — Former first lady Laura Bush visited an Austin elementary school Monday morning, fifth-grader Kaleb Walls leading her on a tour of Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy in East Austin before introducing her to the crowd. The elementary school is one of six schools in the district to receive a $7,000 grant from the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries.
Roger Grape, the librarian at Blackshear Elementary, wants to use the money to expand the fine arts section of the library. This year, his school became Austin Independent School District’s first fine arts academy, and students have been asking for books on what they’re learning about.
“They are like, ‘Where are the books about ballet?’ and I’m like, ‘Here’s one; I have one that I can show you,'” said Grape.
He said when he wrote the letter for the grant from the Laura Bush Foundation, he hoped the school would be chosen so that he could create a fine arts section.
“We don’t have a lot about artists, art history, things having to do with the performing arts that are fiction or nonfiction, so we are hoping to make that area bigger,” said Grape.
When it comes to cash to buy new books, Grape said the district gives him $2.50 student each year. With 275 kids, that equals about $687. Divide that by the average price of a book, $25, and he is left to purchase only 27 new titles for young readers always looking for new material.
Bush was the Dawson Elementary School librarian in the 1970s, and both of her daughters graduated from Austin High School.
The other schools receiving the grants include Anita Uphaus Early Childhood Center, J. Frank Dobie Pre-Kindergarten Center, Margaret T. Reilly Elementary School, Palm Elementary School, and William B. Travis High School.