728 x 90

Long sought after grant will bolster; renew school library


Patience and perseverance tends to pay off in the end and for Opasquia School that has proven to be true in a very big way.
The school recently received word they are the recipient of a $70,000 grant from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. The grant will enable the school to overhaul a library which was in serious need of an injection of new reading material.
“I think it’s going to give all our students equal access to new and engaging books. A lot of our books were really, really old and we moved many of them off our racks,” said Cam Nagle, Opasquia School Principal, as he sat with staff members who had taken part in developing the grant application. As he spoke he gestured to shelves which were in some areas completely bare, devoid of older reading material which had been pulled from the shelves during a recent inventory check.
That check was done this year when a look at the non-fiction section led to a realization there were a lot of books which had been in circulation at the library for quite some time. That realization led to the decision to pull off the shelves books which were published in 1990 or earlier.
In the end 57 per cent of the non-fiction section was yanked from the shelves and in total nearly 1,900 books were removed, some dating back over 70 years.
“There’s books from the 50’s that I’m deleting,” said Kim Coulter, librarian at Opasquia School. “I’m in the process right now of deleting Beverly Cleary books; 1953 they were published.”
Coulter gestured towards milk crates full of books which had been pulled from the shelves and noted more may yet be removed.
The shelves may not be bare for long however. Some books were already shipped to the school from the foundation and Coulter is going to be heading to Winnipeg to shop at the Indigo location there next week.
“We really wanted to transform our library to a place where kids can come and get new books, books they really want and this has allowed us to do this,” said Nagle.
That will be greatly assisted by the grant. It will be spread out over three years with the school being able to spend $21,000 per year on books. That will account for $63,000 of the total $70,000 of the grant, with the remaining $7,000 being spent on other materials for library nights, a program the school is running, like puzzles and crafts.
“Once a month we open up our library and families can come and check books out and we also have related activities,” said Jen Mathews, a grade three teacher at the school and one of the staff involved in the grant application. “We also are creating family book club kits. Each kit contains books and related activities that families can sign out and take home with them for two to three weeks.”
As for what books will be purchased nothing has been set yet but Coulter stated the aim is to “replace what we pull.”
“Plus what’s new? There are so many new things kids are wanting to read about,” added Coulter.
“I think that Kim’s noticing there’s certain book series or a particular book kids really want or we only have one copy of so kids are always waiting for their turn but with this we’ll be able to provide more copies and more selection for the kids of books they actually want and are interested in,” furthered Nagle.
The grant was a long time effort for the school. When asked when they first applied a year couldn’t be pinpointed but it was believed the grant was first applied for about a decade ago and it was estimated the grant had been applied for eight times in total.
Rejection was so frequent that grant members admitted they were already looking ahead to what to do for next years’ application, despite receiving some positive feedback from the foundation following their previous application in 2017.
“Last year we received a call from Indigo stating that our entry application was excellent and we should continue to pursue it and I guess this year put us over the top and they really liked it,” said Nagle.
“I think that it’s been building and the committee has changed since 2010. I know the way we apply and the process has changed since we first started,” said Mathews.
Part of what has changed was the inclusion of a video, something that was a positive portion of the school’s application in 2017 and may have been the tipping point this year. Included in this year’s video was a segment that had teachers and staff at the school hold up a book that was published the year they were born and as the camera pans over them they read the year of the book they are holding.
And now the payoff is being realized. A celebration and thank you to Indigo was held last week after the students were told about the news and now it’s just a matter of filling those shelves back up.
“We worked it out that on average book prices there would be about 3,500 new books and that would be 10 new books for every student,” said Nagle, adding Opasquia School holds approximately 360 students.
Students were happy with the news as well.
“I’m excited to read new books and learn new things,” said one grade three student named Morningstarr, while another named Dennea added, “I’m excited to see the new books because we have so many old ones.”
And over the next three years students will be able to check out those books and develop a new love of reading, all thanks to the dedication of staff at Opasquia School.

Trent Allen