West End Elementary Media Center Gets a Makeover

Chloe Burleson locates a book using the new markers in WEE's Media Center. Maggie Beamguard/SLI


Insider Editor

According to Albert Einstein, “The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” Not to quibble with the theoretical physicist, but you also need to know how to find what you’re looking for once you’re there.

Libraries have come a long way from the heavy card catalogs of days past. In today’s schools, students use their Chromebooks to search for volumes of interest and learn a host of new skills for information gathering. 

Thanks to a special partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Seven Lakes, West End Elementary School students have new tools to navigate their bright and welcoming media center with ease.

Kiwanis members are dedicated to serving and supporting the children of Seven Lakes and West End through a variety of fundraising efforts and service projects and have long been associated with West End Elementary School. 

Club members look for ways to impact the whole school. The Media Center Project was a product of working closely with school administration to determine the best way to serve the needs of students and teachers.

As part of a two-phase project, Kiwanis donated $11,118.84 to bring new furniture and professional shelf markers to the school. When serving as president of Kiwanis, George Norman had the honor of presenting the check to then-principal Shaun Krencicki. Board members Bill Pratt and Jerry Sink spearheaded the project and saw it through to its recent completion.

The first phase was completed in June 2021 with a significant furniture installation, which included tables, chairs and storage units for the Media Center. Kiwanis sponsored a “Markers Space” in the center of the Media Center with four cloverleaf-top mobile marker tables and provided additional stools and cafe tables for the back of the media center.

From Left, Anthony Estrada and Mia Cermeno Hernandez work at new desks in the WEE Media Center. Maggie Beamguard/SLI

The additions make the WEE Media Center a more versatile space for the whole school, including faculty and other meetings where adults appreciate a larger chair. 

The second phase of the project was completed earlier this year. Kiwanis member Phil Cox works for a company called Library Skills that caters to libraries. He aided the purchase of shelf markers to smarten the place up — and the students too.  

The new markers have largely replaced signs made by school volunteer and retired media specialist Judy Laut. Those markers serve an important purpose in directing students to the materials they need.

“It makes it so easy to browse the books,” said media specialist Heather Bridges. “I feel like an important skill in life is to know how to search a catalog and to be able to find where a book is located.” The larger, brightly colored markers are elementary friendly.  

Alexis Overton pulls a book from the WEE Media Center. Maggie Beamguard/SLI

“I can be up here and say: ‘check in the Fiction R’s.’ And they can easily see it.” 

When using Destiny, the computer catalog, students can type in a subject, receive a call number and know exactly where to go for the material. “It definitely gives them the independence of finding it on their own,” Bridges said.

The media center additions have been well received by the students. “It’s just been so nice. The kids love it. The teachers love it,” said Bridges. “It was a great way to impact everyone, because it is the hub of the school. It’s inviting and colorful. And it makes them excited to check out books.”  

Bridges is grateful for the school’s partnership with Kiwanis, mentioning their leadership and involvement through the Terrific Kid program, Birdhouse Project and Book Fair volunteer support. 

“I love Kiwanis,” she said. “They are a fantastic group of individuals that impact the community in so many ways. They’re just always willing. They’re just so good.” Not only has Kiwanis financially benefited the school, but members have volunteered in a variety of ways through the years. 

From Left: Ella Coleman, Emily Hernandes-Tolentino, Desmond Taylor, Jacqueline Lopez make the most of the WEE Media Center facilities. Maggie Beamguard/The Pilot

Bridges recalls one member, Carolyn Sink, who brought in her sewing kit to repair one of the gently used risers WEE nabbed from another school. “She was in here volunteering for the book fair and noticed a tear in one of the green cushions. And the next day she was here repairing the furniture.”

The Kiwanis Club of Seven Lakes raises funds for projects in a variety of ways, including publishing a yearly phone book, hosting an annual pancake breakfast and sponsoring bi-monthly Bingo nights held the first and third Tuesday from September through June at the Chapel in the Pines.

Contact Maggie Beamguard at maggie@thepilot.com