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School happenings: Desperate times call for desperate measures

By Deborah Nale

As our schools battle proration and a sagging economy, one of the areas affected is the media center. This year zero dollars were allotted for libraries.

We are challenged to motivate students to become lifelong readers and learners, yet we were not given any money to supply students’ needs, which concerns me as the Library Media Specialist (LMS) for Russellville High School.

Research is just one area of concern with reference material being very expensive. I believe students still need to learn to “search the stacks” instead of depending solely on the Internet, which often contains biased and erroneous information.

Because of these challenges, media specialists have turned to “creative ways” to raise money for basic needs.  In December the high school had a company come in that bought gold and silver. We used our profit to purchase AR novels.

We are an AR (Accelerated Reading) school.  English teachers require students to read books and take AR tests.  This program has proven to help reading scores, but it takes money to keep up with the latest “good read.”

This year we also decided to raise money by having a book fair in March. Mary Kay Rogers, LMS for West Elementary encouraged us to try it. It was a “first” for the high school. The students were so excited since they had not been to a book fair since elementary school. Scholastic was very pleased with our sales, and we are already planning to make it bigger and better next year.

We also had a contest where classes competed to raise money to purchase books. The top three classes raised over $220.  We made $350 in all.

In today’s economy, especially for teens, this was a humbling experience and makes us want to work harder, especially since next year’s money situation is not looking much better.

We are always searching for grants.  Sen. Roger Bedford awarded us $1000 in October. The media center also accepts donations for memorials and honoraria.  In return, we place a living memorial in a book and send an acknowledgement to the family.

This is my first year at the media center, replacing Marjorie Hamm who retired after 44 years.  My goal is to continue her example of making our media center the best it can be for the welfare of our students.

Not receiving state funding makes it hard.  However, it’s worth all of the extra work when we see students pick up a book and fall in love with reading or help students find material on research topics.

It’s all about the students and preparing them for the 21st century.

Deborah Nale is the Media Specialist at Russellville High School