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Montross Middle School writing teacher Allison Ondovcik, with some of the selected student groups and their new books.

Thirty-eight students from Montross Middle School were the surprised recipients of the Chris Long Foundation’s “First Quarter for Literacy Week” on Valentine’s Day. Allison Ondovcik, MMS Writing Coach, had applied for a $500 grant from the Chris Long Foundation and received word that she had been awarded the grant. She had teachers, staff, and administration nominate those students who they felt would most benefit from the program. Sworn to secrecy, teachers and administrators have been busy finding out information on the selected students; what were their favorite hobbies, did they have a special interest, or who their favorite author or movie was. The books were then chosen based on the students’ reading level and interests. 

The grant allowed Mrs. Ondovcik to order 159 books for the 38 students. Each student received 3-5 books. The books were delivered to the students during a special presentation on Valentine’s Day. All the books were placed in bags that were purchased with donations to the project. Each student received a personalized bag with their name on it, a bookmark and an “I love reading” bracelet in it along with the books.

The surprised students were delighted with the book bags. When their names were announced they gleefully peeked into the bags and excitedly examined their new books. Students were seen sharing their books with each other and carefully examining “their” books. Excitement generated with each of the groups of students called to the library.

The mission of the Chris Long Foundation “is to support bright futures for communities and the individuals that make up those communities. Our programs strive to generate impactful results by creating opportunities and providing resources, financial support, and meaningful experiences to those we serve.” 

Chris Long was born into a football family. His father is Pro Football Hall of Famer, Howie Long. Chris played football at the University of Virginia and then played professionally for the St. Louis Rams as a defensive end in 2008. In 2018, he was named the Rams’ Walter Payton Man of the Year in recognition of his involvement and service to others. Mr. Long began his foundation in 2015. He signed with the New England Patriots in 2016 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 and won the Super Bowl with each of these teams. In 2019 Mr. Long retired from the NFL to focus on his foundation’s mission.

Montross Middle School won their grant through the foundation’s “First Quarter for Literacy Week.” The goal of the foundation is to “distribute as many books as they can, to as many children as they can, in the hopes of helping families create or expand their at-home library.” At Montross Middle that goal was achieved. Congratulations to Mrs. Ondovcik and the winning students on this wonderful achievement.