By Sage Pitman
“R-E-A-D-I-N-G. But it’s pronounced ‘redding’,” fifth grader Reading Blount said in frustration. It isn’t uncommon for Blount to have his first
name mispronounced by new acquaintances and name tag-readers. “No one can get it right.” Contrary to what his first name might imply, Blount is not very fond of reading literature; yet, in the past, he has enjoyed “looking at pictures in books.”
The best venue for this indulgence, and others such as reading or taking out books, was once the lower school library—a corner classroom converted into a home for over 1,000 Christian, classical, and children’s books. Due to this year’s increased enrollment and the implementation of the CCS junior kindergarten class, the beloved library had to be dismantled into boxes and dispersed into classrooms one week before school in order to welcome the new grades comfortably.
It was through great trouble and pain that the faculty and staff arrived at this conclusion; “It was a tough decision, but we hope it is only temporary to find enough space to have the books and the children together,” Head of School, Robert Lee said.
Although it is heart-breaking, both students and faculty have found ways to find light in losing the library. Custodian Randy Bolling sees the dissolve of the library, which supports the school’s exponential growth, as “a great problem to have.”
“I think having always extra kids here is great—the more, the merrier!” teacher Pam Averill said. Averill, along with Deb Kropiewnicki and Sheila Justice, now direct AEP (the Academic Enrichment Program) in the old library room.
As for fifth grader Tyree Peele, the library meant “somewhere quiet” in which he could read for fun.“I read any book I find. I read any book that might be interesting to me.” Peele cannot identify a favorite book because he “likes a whole lot of them.” Mystery, however, is his favorite genre.
The first graders did not have as much time in the library as the older students had, but even their short experience left fond memories. “There was so many cool books that I couldn’t even tell!” first grader Will Manwaring said describing his first library visit. First grader Madison Cowan’s favorite library book was “the princess one about Barbie.”
Teacher assistant Bonnie Alder has worked at Christ Covenant for 10 years and led many field trips and independent reading sessions, administered an abundance of individual testing, and watched more than a dozen grades hold and turn the pages of the same books. Alder reminisced field trips to the library, one-on-one reading sessions, and kids’ excited whispers across the old, scratched-up wooden table. Alder will deeply miss the long-time library ladies Elaine Fletcher and Linda Bagley who “volunteered so much of their time” to taking care of the literature.
Luckily, teachers have been diligent in encouraging reading in their individual classrooms: “Several teachers do Scholastic, which is a system in which the parents buy books and teachers receive books for their classroom,” teacher assistant Jennifer Keesler said. “I hope that the parents will pick up that side and hopefully take their children, at least once a week, to a public library,” teacher Deborah Davis said. Teachers like John Murray are taking it upon themselves to ensure students have all texts at their disposal. “As a teacher of literature, I want every student to have access to books. I always tell my students, ‘Hey, if you don’t see the book on my shelf you’d like to read, just let me know and I can try and get it for you’. I did just have a student ask me for a book and I’m going to go see if it’s on my shelves.”
Everyone has high hopes to see the library again, though there are numerous wonderful forms in which it could return: a book bus, a Little Free Library, or maybe a mobile cart. It’s time to turn the page, and keep reading. “It is most important to me to sit down and read as always…whatever you can do to motivate students to read…to not see it as a drudgery,” Averill said.