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Elementary School Receives Grant from Famous Author

Oct 08, 2015 12:24PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Tori Jorgensen 

West Jordan - Funds from a famous author contributed to summer literacy programs at Westvale Elementary this summer will enable the school to purchase new books for the library. 

James Patterson, who holds the Guinness record for the author with the most No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, joined with Scholastic Publishing Company to offer $1.75 million to school libraries nationwide. The application process asked participants this question: “What would your school library do with $1,000 to $10,000?”

Theresa Christensen, the Westvale teacher who applied for the scholarship, brought her answer to this question to life as she used part of the $5,000 grant to open up the library for student use this summer. Christensen said that without the help of the school, many students would not have the opportunity to read over the summer. Westvale is a Tier 1 school, with 49 percent of the student body qualifying for free or reduced school lunch. 

“We have a lot of students who don’t have books in their home because it comes down to paying your rent and getting food or buying books,” she said. “Our kids come and they haven’t seen books when they get to school because they don’t have books in their home, so we try to find some way to get books into their hands.”

The Crabb family took advantage of the summer library. Emily Crabb, a sixth grader at Westvale, said the summer would not have been the same without being able to check out “The Lost Hero,” a fantasy-adventure novel written by Rick Riordan. Her mother, Rhonda Crabb, agreed. 

“It is just a little extra thing that we have done to try to keep them engaged in academics,” Crabb said. “It’s nice for them to still feel that school community in the summer.” 

Although the summer library was only open select Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Christensen used some of the Patterson grant funds to construct a “Readbox,” after the design of a Redbox machine. Acquiring inspiration from Pinterest, Christensen and her husband painted an old shelved cabinet red and added lettering for flair. The box was filled with book donations from teachers, community members, the library and Christensen herself and was placed outside the school against one of the portables. Students could come at any time and borrow or trade books from this homemade vending machine. 

The rest of the Patterson grant money will be used during the school year to get new books for the library. 

“The school librarians have some books that are well-worn, but they don’t want to take them out of inventory because they are loved so much,” Christensen said. “They’ve taken them and repaired them again and again and those are ones for sure they want to replace.”

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