Throughout a student’s school career they learn positive character traits of being kind to others, treating people with respect, and giving back to the community. Students are taught to practice positive character traits daily, but how many actually make a choice to make a substantial impact in a community? When a group of students invest their time, money and talent and follow through with a well-thought out project that benefits the greater community, they should be commended.
Three Mt. Vernon High School (MVHS) students are supporting early childhood reading by creating a “Little Free Library” for each of the three Mt. Vernon elementary schools. The three MVHS students are: Tess Barnett, a junior who is responsible for “Communications & Project Management”; Elizabeth May, a junior who will oversee “Engineering and Construction”; and Emily Neuendorf, a senior who is chairing the “Artistic Design and Book Management.”
The idea stemmed from a trip Elizabeth May took to Washington D.C. While in Georgetown, she saw several “Little Free Library” stations and began to think about the impact they could have in her community. A "Little Free Library" is an outdoor structure that houses free books for the community to "take a book, leave a book." She spoke with her friends about the idea of books being more accessible to elementary students, which would in turn promote literacy. All three students are avid readers, who are passionate about encouraging children to develop a love for reading and self-directed learning.
The students originally created a PowerPoint and presented the concept to the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation’s administration, who gave the green light to construct the buildings over fall break. A Facebook page (“MVCSC Little Free Libraries”) and funding website (http://mvcsclittlefreelibrary.trstickets.com) were also created to sustain the project financially and develop support within the community.
The carefully thought out construction plan included details on durable materials, installation, copyright-free artistic designs, height of interior to accommodate all book sizes, short enough to be accessible for young readers, weather-resistant doors, and upkeep, among other considerations.
The administration requested the team work with a student organization, such as the Mt. Vernon High School Book Club, for long-term sustainability to help with the physical building upkeep and book donations. All of the elementary school principals stated they would have books to donate, from their personal library and school library. The books will be stamped to show they are official “Little Library” books, and to help with theft/used book sales.
Each of the three libraries will be hand-painted with different themes. One theme is “Alice in Wonderland” featuring the Cheshire Cat, while another will be a “Fairy Garden/Fantasy” theme. The third will be a day/night landscape with a reading quote.
The students registered each of the three libraries with the international “Little Free Library” organization (www.littlefreelibrary.org). They are also working with the Hancock County and Vernon Township Libraries, as well as Hancock County Community Foundation’s Imagination Library. They plan to expand the “Little Free Library” program to the Towns of McCordsville and Fortville in the future.
School administration will be coordinating the installation of the three little libraries and an opening ceremony is scheduled at 1 p.m. on Thursday, November 19th at Fortville Elementary School (8414 N. 200 W., Fortville, IN 46040). See below for the ribbon-cutting ceremony video.
The community can get involved by donating gently used books at each of the elementary school administrative offices:
Fortville Elementary School – 8414 N. 200 W., Fortville, IN 46040
McCordsville Elementary School – 7177 N. 600 W., McCordsville, IN 46055
Mt. Comfort Elementary School – 5694 W. 300 N., Greenfield, IN 46140
Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation would publicly like to thank and commend these three industrious students for their admirable efforts in impacting early childhood reading.