Kiwanis’ Bookcase Project banquet tickets on sale

Johnny Key, secretary of education, will deliver the keynote speech at the Conway Kiwanis Bookcase Project’s annual banquet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20. Individual tickets are $25.00. A “Sponsor’s Table” of eight seats is $250 and includes benefits such as a premium seating location, recognition during the banquet and an opportunity to distribute promotional material to attendees. Tickets can be ordered by e-mailing Richard Plotkin at [email protected].

Johnny Key

The banquet will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Bob and Betty Courtway Middle School, 1200 Bob Courtway Drive, Conway. Supper and entertainment will be provided, the latter by the Fat Soul Band, a network of musicians in Central Arkansas who specialize in sing-along pop, country and rock music. 

On March 25, 2015, Key began serving as the Commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education, now known as the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education. In May 2019, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Key as the Secretary of the Department of Education as part of his plan to transform state government. Key serves in both capacities. 

The banquet, cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been a primary source of financial support for the Bookcase Project, which funds the construction of 50 bookcases annually. 

Since the founding of the Conway Bookcase Project in 2005, 900 personalized bookcases and starter sets of books have been awarded annually to preschoolers enrolled in Conway Head Start. The goal of the Bookcase Project is to promote literacy at an early age, enhancing the potential of participating children to excel at all levels of education and in their chosen professions. 

According to a research brief released by Amplify on Feb. 16, the number of students nationally in grades K-5 at risk of not learning to read has increased during the pandemic. “The purpose of our literacy initiative is to reverse this trend and reduce the percentage of students who need additional support in reading,” said Plotkin, chair of the Bookcase Project.