Guy Ellis

Grove Middle School students will have the benefit of a freshly painted and redecorated library when they return to classes this Thursday. GMS librarian Melinda Jarvis and library aide Joan Spade have breathed new life into the facility this week with the help of a group of volunteers.

“I would like to thank all the volunteers that put their hard work and effort into making the library a fresh and inviting place that students will be excited to come to,” said Jarvis, who has been the GMS librarian for five years.

The new color scheme is a light beige motif that replaces the dark blue colors that adorned the walls previously.

“The new color really reflects the light and brightens the whole place up,” said Spade.

Neil Jarvis State Farm Insurance donated the paints and supplies for the job.

The doors and window trimmings are painted in Ridgerunner red. Lori Swingle painted the two oval G’s that adorn both doors. Her husband Dan Swingle pitched in with the roller brush. Children John, Natalie, a GHS student, and Wesley, a GMS seventh grader, helped as well.

Other volunteers on the project were Lynn Pagels and her mother Joy. Hannah Pagels, a GMS seventh grader, and brother Sam, a student at the Upper Elementary, saw their share of time behind the brush. Drew Hardy and Emily Sanders, both GMS seventh graders, donated their time and effort as well.

The project was about more than just taping and painting. The GMS library contains over 10,000 books and numerous pieces of heavy equipment and all of it had to be moved around to get the job done correctly.

The new paint was topped off with a large 4’ by 4’ wooden cutout of Ridgy, the venerable school mascot, who sits atop one of the shelves guarding the books and overseeing the scholastic activity inside the room.

“In a lot of ways the library is the hub of the school,” said Jarvis. “All three grades utilize the tools and the resources we have in here for all areas of the curriculum.”

The GMS library contains a computer lab of nine machines to aid students in research projects for various assignments. Jarvis and Spade monitor the usage of the equipment and offer assistance to the students.

“We’re pleased with the computers we have- but we could always use more!” said Jarvis.

“The computers help the kids with research which in turn helps them develop their writing skills,” she said. “Writing skills are one of the most important skills to have for students to be successful in higher education.

“Those kind of skills aren’t just learned overnight,” she continued. “Students have to start learning writing skills at a young age and build on it. Our computers help with that tremendously.”

GMS students are still introduced to the traditional Dewey decimal system but today most find the books they are looking for by searching the computer database. Likewise the old system of checking out books that involved an ink pad and a rubber stamp have been supplanted by a modern scanning machine that keeps a database of the books that have been checked out.

During the school year the library has two students for each class period that serve as librarian aides. The students learn to operate the computer systems that keep the library running smoothly and Jarvis and Spade involve them in as many areas as possible.

The library also promotes a reading incentive plan called Reading Counts. The program promotes reading by rewarding students for the books they have read. Different books are worth various point values and the school and library staff rewards the top point gatherers.

“It gives the kids incentive to read even more, which means they are learning more,” said Jarvis. “And they are rewarded so it becomes a source of pride for them. It’s even a little bit of a competition between the kids to see who can get the most reading points.”

The library also serves the school as a meeting place for faculty. It contains a large conference area for tutoring purposes and parent-teacher conferences. The library also has an LCD computer projector to facilitate presentations for different workshops and seminars.

The current library activities keep Jarvis and her staff busy but they have goals for even more functions in the future.

“We are really trying to coordinate a newsroom,” Jarvis said, “where students could learn journalism skills. Something like that could lead to a school newspaper.

“We also want to get more involved in video production where maybe we could produce a school news broadcast. Things like that connect the school together and helps accomplish common goals,” she added.

The GMS is holding an open house Wednesday, August 13th from 1PM to 3PM. Parents and community members should drop by to see the new and encouraging things that are happening at the school.

“It’s going to be a great school year,” Jarvis said.