WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A special gathering was held Tuesday morning for a beloved volunteer at Pineview Elementary School in Lexington School District Two.
Several classes of Pineview fourth graders enjoyed some pie and performed for 94-year-old Harvey Johnson Tuesday. Johnson reads to them every single Tuesday. He's been doing that for almost seven years. But, this isn't his first time at bat. He volunteered with his late wife, Ernestine, at Congaree Wood Academy for years before that. Ernestine was a volunteer librarian, while Harvey read to the children.
Ernestine passed away in 2009. They were married for more than six decades.
"After she was buried, I came to school here," Johnson said, "and asked them if they could use a volunteer reader."
He's been inspiring classes of 4th graders with his readings and personal stories ever since.
"They don't usually say a whole lot," Johnson said. "They love me and appreciate me is what they say… and I take their word for it."
But this particular Tuesday, they had a whole lot to say. This will be the last year Johnson reads to the kids as Pineview is moving to a new location next year that is too far for him to drive. They held a celebratory gathering in his honor – performing skits, songs and showing them all of the life lessons he has taught them along the way.
"I try to tell them from time to time, you may not be as smart as somebody else," Johnson said, "but you can do your best and that's all anybody expects of you."
Fourth-grade teacher, Kelli Edwards, described the impact the 94-year-old reader has had on her class.
"He's so caring and loving and kind and compassionate," Edwards said. "So it's not necessarily the words he says, it's the way he treats us. They love him so much. He's truly one of the kindest, most gentle people I've ever met."
As this year comes to a close, Johnson is soaking in all the love these kids have to offer, basking in the love of all their little hearts.
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