VERNON, CT — Hundreds of eyeglasses were recently given to Vernon students, thanks to Vision To Learn, a non-profit that partnered with the Vernon Public Schools and the state Department of Education.

Last week, Vision To Learn provided a vision screening to every Vernon Public Schools student, and then a full vision exam to those who had trouble seeing. More than 800 students received a free pair of eyeglasses.

Students at Lake Street School were the final group to undergo screenings and exams and they received their glasses as part pf a special assembly. Each student stepped up to have their glasses placed on their face and then got their first look at themselves in a mirror.

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Superintendent of Schools Joseph Macary joked with a few students and asked how many fingers he was holding up. When a student answered correctly he or she received a high five.

Lake Street Principal Tracy Duenzl expressed gratitude to Vision To Learn.

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“Thank you for providing our students the ability to see clearly, some for the first time,” she said.

One of those students, third-grader Harper Boyajian, said her new glasses have had a dramatic impact on her life.

“I had a headache before I got glasses and now it’s gone,” Harper said. “My vision was super blurry and I really couldn’t see anything. Having glasses means I can see more and it will just be the best.”

Fourth grader Jackson Weeks said he had trouble seeing in a classroom.

“I couldn’t really see the board at the front of the room and that made it harder to learn,” Jackson said. “Now that I have glasses it’s a lot easier to see farther away and I can read stuff that I could not read before. I think these glasses are going to help me do better in school.”

Jason Weeks, Jackson’s dad, said he was surprised to learn his son needed glasses.

“He gets his annual physical and nothing had come up,” he said. “Then, paperwork came home from school that said he’d be a candidate for glasses. He loves reading so I know he’ll put the glasses to good use.”

Macary signed on early to bring Vision To Learn to Vernon and allocated $50,000 in federal pandemic aid for the program. He thanked the organization for what it has done to help Vernon students, especially since more than a quarter needed glasses.

“This program has meant a lot to me, personally,” Macary said. “Just as every student deserves to have paper and a pencil, food and transportation, they deserve the right to be able to see well. If they can’t see, how are they going to learn?”

Macary said he is looking for grants or a charitable organization to continue that funding so that Vernon children can continue to benefit from Vision To Learn.

Other Vision To Learn supporters include the Dalio Education foundation, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.

Former UConn and Connecticut Sun star Morgan Tuck attended Friday’s program and told students that a player going into her 15th year in the WNBA just began wearing glasses.

“She couldn’t see the basket as well as she thought she should,” Tuck said. “So, you guys are ahead of the game. That’s why today is really important for you guys.”

Statewide, Vision to Learn has provided vision screenings to more than 13,000 students, conducted about 4,600 eye exams and provided eye glasses to 3,168 kids, said Sabrina Davis, Vision To Learn’s Connecticut Program Manager. For students who already have glasses, Vision To Learn provides an eye exam to make sure their prescription is up to date and a second pair of glasses.

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