Pictured left to right, Ginny Wagner, Xxzavyon (XJ) Square, Ewan Mordecai-Smith, Elise Sirguy, Mahayla Amendolare and Mallory Hartman cut the ribbon of the little free library at Jefferson Elementary School on Friday. (Darlene Cook)

Pictured left to right, Ginny Wagner, Xxzavyon (XJ) Square, Ewan Mordecai-Smith, Elise Sirguy, Mahayla Amendolare and Mallory Hartman cut the ribbon of the little free library at Jefferson Elementary School on Friday. (Darlene Cook)

Students come together to promote reading literacy

Free library constructed near Jefferson Elementary

PORT ANGELES — Six Port Angeles students worked with the Michael Trebert Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to build a little free library that will be placed near Jefferson Elementary School later this summer.

The project, which has been more than four years in the making, involved adults and students from three schools.

Elise Sirguy, one of the students involved in the project, said she hopes the library will “influence the joy of reading and bring reading more out into the community.”

“People don’t really take time to sit and read a book anymore,” said Mallory Hartman, another student involved in the project. She hopes the library will help solve that problem.

The project started before COVID-19, when Mary Van Dyke of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) wrote a grant proposal to Hartnagel Building Supply. DAR was awarded $1,000, but the project got sidelined due to the pandemic.

Members of DAR came back together last summer to try to figure out how to use the grant. At that meeting, they decided to get students involved in the process of planning, proposing and building a little free library.

The DAR’s first stop was Stevens Middle School. There, they worked with civics teacher Rob Edwards to partner with the school’s eighth-grade civics club.

Ginny Wagner, the DAR’s point person for the project, said the goal of the partnership was to help teach the students leadership skills.

Hartman, who was part of the civics club, said she got involved with the project because she liked the idea of “helping the community.”

The three civics club students met with Wagner and DAR member Lucy Tiemersma during lunch every school Tuesday, beginning in late November. In those meetings, they designed the library.

They decided to have tiers inside the library, to hold books for a variety of different age levels.

Once they finished the planning stage, they went to Port Angeles High School. There, they presented their idea to the high school woodshop students, hoping to get them to build the library.

Three students — Robert Kennedy, Xxzavyon (XJ) Square and Ewan Mordecai-Smith — volunteered their time to build it. Retired woodshop teacher Tim Branham and current woodshop teacher Paul Arndt also helped them build it.

While it was being built, the civics club students brainstormed where they could put the library. They decided to approach Jefferson Elementary School with a proposal to put it near there.

Sirguy said they decided to put it there because it is “central to town, and there are lots of children around of all ages.”

At Jefferson Elementary, the group met with Lucy Edwards, a kindergarten teacher. Wagner described Edwards as instrumental in helping them coordinate meetings with Rhonda Kromm, the school’s principal.

The school accepted DAR’s proposal, and they jointly decided to place the library at the corner of Chase and 12th streets.

The next step was to get the word out. The civics club students got a table at Jefferson Elementary School’s literacy night in the spring and told attendees about their plans for the library.

After all these steps, the involved parties celebrated at Jefferson Elementary School during their Friday morning opening ceremony. They cut a ribbon for the freshly built library, and Wagner thanked everyone who took part in the project.

Although the library is built, it still needs to be painted and placed at its final location. Wagner said they plan to do that in the summer, and then have a grand opening for it in the fall.

Mahayla Amendolare, one of the civics club students, said she hopes people who attend the grand opening will bring a book that can be left at the new library.

Wagner said she was impressed with how both the woodshop students and civics club students used their free time to plan and implement the project.

“They really all had a heart to learn how to serve in the community,” she said.

The civics club students appreciated the skills they learned. Amendolare said it taught her how to take on a big project, how to communicate with people and how to advertise.

Mallory Hartman, another one of the civics club students, said it helped her improve her public speaking skills.

“Before I did this, I was insanely nervous,” she said. “But I think this definitely helped my stage fright during the proposals.”

________

Reporter Emma Maple can be reached by email at emma.maple@peninsuladailynews.com.

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