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Blackstone Elementary celebrates opening of new library

Posted by Patrick Rosso  March 2, 2012 02:31 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)


The Blackstone Elementary School's new library.

Students, teachers, and the South End community celebrated the opening of the Blackstone Elementary School’s new library Friday afternoon.

Educators believe the new library will help bolster efforts to turn around the school.
The Blackstone was named by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2010 as under-performing school and is one of the 12 schools in the Boston Public School’s system that has been working to raise test scores and help students achieve a better education.

“It’s amazing to watch this all happen,” said Paris Jeffries, principal of the Blackstone, who was brought in over the summer. “For us, it’s about developing oral language skills. Thiis library will help student’s imaginations and help them create dreams. It also helps students understand books are a resource.”

Although the library will not be staffed with a paid librarian, an army of volunteers from the Simmons College of Library Science and Winchester church.

“It’s so rewarding if you love books, to share them with kids and the look on their faces is amazing,” said Eileen Marks, 49, a member of the Winchester Church of the Epiphany. “Kids learn to read and enjoy it when they read something they love.”

Setting up a new library can be a challenge. Luckily for the Blackstone, City Year and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on Shawmut Avenue have thrown their support behind the school and students, working with them to stock the library and organize their new collection through an electronic database.

“We are totally excited for the new library,” said Liz Steinhauser, reverend of the St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. “All the research evidence shows schools that have libraries do better on the MCAS and reading transforms individuals and is part of what transforms neighborhoods.”

Students got to have some fun Friday, with the Cat in the Hat making visits to classrooms to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday, which was Friday.

“I think it’s essential for kids to enjoy reading,” said Representative Byron Rushing, whose district includes the South End. “One of the best ways to [get kids reading] is to have books around so they don’t always feel reading is an assignment.”

Even as Rushing flipped through the pages of one of the library’s new books, he couldn’t help but notice the library lacked one key book, “There Is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me,” by Alice Walker, a childhood favorite of Rushing’s.

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Email Patrick Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)

Kayla Scholl, 19, a member of City Year enjoying one of the library's new books.

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