Fourth graders cheer on new Reading Oasis at Central Park Elementary

Roseville Area Schools Superintendent Aldo Sicoli and North Suburban St. Paul Kiwanis Club President Dale Jensen cut the ribbon on Central Park Elementary School’s new Reading Oasis Feb. 24. (Mike Munzenrider/Review)

Above, fourth graders, Kiwanis Club members and parents showed up for the ribbon cutting; the kids were excited to get at the Reading Oasis’ 1,200 new books. Below, beyond all those books, the Reading Oasis offers new benches and shelves, bean bag chairs and a nice rug. There’s a also a red plaque commemorating the two sponsors’ contributions. (Mike Munzenrider photos/Review)

Kiwanis Club and book publisher made it happen

The library at Central Park Elementary School in Roseville was packed full with three fourth-grade classes Feb. 24 to witness the ribbon cutting on the school’s new Reading Oasis.

The North Suburban St. Paul Kiwanis Club and Scholastic Books came together to donate the Reading Oasis to the school, each donating $5,500 towards the cause.

Kiwanis member Todd Levig explained that he and other club members assembled the benches and book shelves, while high school-aged Kiwanis Key Club members labeled the Oasis’ 1,200 books, color-coding them by grade level.

“It’s a special area where kids can sit and read, with people coming in to read to them,” Dale Jensen, the North Suburban club president said, explaining those guest readers would be Kiwanis members and parents.

He motioned towards the books. “They haven’t let anyone touch them yet, until this day.”

When the fourth graders began filing into the library, one boy, looking at the Oasis, exclaimed, “So many books — I want them all!”

Before the ribbon cutting, Ms. Reiser’s fourth graders sang a couple of songs. They warmed up with a humming exercise and students introduced each song; the kids nailed the “Central Park Pledge School Song” before they finished their set with “Above a Plain.”

“We are very proud of you for being a part of this,” Central Park Principal Becky Berkas said, before telling the kids how many books were in the Reading Oasis, eliciting ohs and ahs. 

“We have a nice cozy spot for Central Park students for years to come,” she added

The students gave their principal a round of applause and, seconds later, a nearby classroom echoed it with applause of their own.

“Thank you very much, fourth graders, for singing,” Jensen said when it was his turn to speak to the group, with a kid in the crowd answering, “You got it.”

Jensen said the Kiwanis Club’s main fundraiser is its annual Kiwanis Malt Shop at the Minnesota State Fair. 

This year, he said the shop raised $60,000 worth of profits and that the Reading Oasis was an example of how that money is used, adding that Kiwanis’ mission is to improve the lives of children.

Following Jensen, Roseville Area Schools Superintendent Aldo Sicoli thanked Kiwanis for the Oasis and said, for Central Park students, “It will enhance their love of reading.”

When Berkas announced it was time for the ribbon cutting, the kids erupted again. Though one fourth grader inquired about over-sized scissors, Jensen and Sicoli took dual ribbon-cutting honors with regular-sized sheers. 

As the kids filed back to their classrooms — they’d get a chance to check out the Oasis later, class by class — kids tested out the new bean bag chairs.

Heather McDonough from Scholastic Books said the Reading Oasis was the first of it’s kind in the Twin Cities area, though that she’d soon be down in Olmsted County to open another one later this spring.

“We hope we can get Oasis rooms in all our schools,” she said.


Mike Munzenrider can be reached at or 651-748-7813. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.

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