December 22, 1999

Creator of Captain Kangaroo Bob Keeshan to Launch the Middlebury College Page 1 Bicentennial Literacy Project National Book Drive -- "Television, the Electronic Media, and Children's Literacy" to be Topic of Keeshan's Talk on Jan. 20

On Thursday, Jan. 20, Bob Keeshan, the former Captain Kangaroo of children's television, will officially launch the Middlebury College Page 1 Bicentennial Literacy Project--a national book drive organized by the College to mark its 200th anniversary in November of 2000. The author and former television star will give a talk titled "Television, the Electronic Media, and Children's Literacy." The lecture will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the Ross Lounge of Ross Dormitory off College Street (Route 125 West). A light buffet will follow Keeshan's talk. The event, including the buffet, is free and open to the public. Students, staff, and faculty who have offered their time to organize Page 1--the largest volunteer project in the College's history--will be recognized at the event.

Keeshan will also visit Mary Hogan Elementary School in Middlebury earlier in the afternoon.

Collections for the Page 1 book drive will officially begin after the launch of the program on Jan. 20, and will continue for nine months until Oct. 21, 2000, when the books will be delivered to various literacy programs and other organizations across the country. Donations of new books will be accepted.

The project offers a way for the College's students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends to participate in Middlebury's Bicentennial while responding to the needs of their local community or state. Through mailings, the Middlebury Magazine, and other means, the College has encouraged people to donate a book or to arrange a party or event at which new books can be collected from guests.

Through the work of over 50 coordinators--most of whom are alumni--the College has identified programs in every state for participation in Page 1, including schools, libraries, adult literacy programs, preschools, and after-school programs. In many instances, Middlebury alumni will also be assisting the programs as tutors or reading partners.

According to Mona Wheatley, Middlebury College director of Bicentennial planning, service to society is a tradition reaching back to the College's founding days. Today more than 800 Middlebury students are enrolled in the campus Volunteer Service Program, and half of the student body--roughly 1,100 students--does volunteer work either through the program or through other campus organizations. Alumni chapters from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. are also involved in service projects.

"A volunteer project that engages the students, faculty, and staff on campus, and our extended family of alumni, parents, and friends seemed a fitting and integral part of our Bicentennial celebration," said Wheatley. "We hope to help improve literacy by making books more readily available, and encouraging those alumni who wish to donate their time to serve their local literacy organizations as volunteers."

On campus, participants in the Page 1 project are already donating new books to Addison County families, volunteering to read with students and adult learners, and raising funds for literacy needs. To date, Page 1 has assisted the following local organizations: Ilsley Library, Mary Johnson Children's Center, Bristol Elementary School After-School Program, Mary Hogan Elementary School After-School Program, Vermont Adult Learning, and St. Mary's School.

A grant from the Alma Donchian Foundation has enabled Page 1 to enhance literacy initiatives in Vermont, including needs assessment, database management, and volunteer recruitment and placement. The foundation has also made it possible for the College to hire a coordinator to direct this significant volunteer effort on campus.

Several alumni chapters have also already initiated efforts to collect new books for Page 1--the New York City chapter, for instance, collected over 300 new children's books at its December 1998 holiday party for Books for Kids, a local organization. In response to the donation, the project director wrote, "With each box we opened, our excitement grew, for your alumni chose well ... The books donated convey the magic of reading, and when the children discover them, we know they will be thoroughly enchanted."

For more information about Page 1, contact Ingrid Punderson in the Middlebury College Bicentennial planning office by phone at 802-443-2276, or by email:



4:30 p.m. Lecture: Bob Keeshan, a.k.a. Captain Kangaroo, "Television, the Electronic Media, and Children's Literacy," in Ross Lounge (Ross Dormitory), Middlebury College. Light buffet to follow lecture. Free and open to the public.

Directions: Turn right at the yellow light at the top of College Street (Route 125 W). The parking area is next to Ross, the building furthest back from College Street.

Keeshan will also visit Mary Hogan Elementary School in Middlebury earlier in the afternoon.