Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 22, 1999
New library blows out cobwebs
At St. Mike's School, 50-year-old books replaced with new technology
By LELLA BLUMER
Special to the WCR
St. Michael's new school library is "a dream come true," says school council chair Ben Kobbero.
"Can you believe there were books in here that were printed in 1946?" he asked the crowd gathered for the library opening Feb. 11. "And the kids were still using them."
The new facility is a tribute to the efforts of staff, students, parents and the community, Kobbero says.
"It's a celebration of people working together," agrees school principal Reny Clericuzio. "It's the fruition of our dream of a strong education program for our students."
A modernization proposal for the 53-year-old inner-city school was approved by the Edmonton Catholic school division in June 1998. The focus was on updating both the appearance and the technology of the library, Clericuzio says.
A school district report made public last month named St. Michael's as one of four schools in older areas which should be closed. However, school trustees have made it clear they won't close any school without extensive public consultation.
In St. Michael's modernized library, the lime-green carpet and chocolate-brown walls have been replaced by a light, warm and welcoming space, with bright banners and student artwork on the walls.
The books from 1946 are gone too. Instead, students have access to the latest resources and educational software programs, an audio/visual and listening centre, and five computer terminals, which will soon be connected to the Internet.
"It's not just for the exchange of books anymore - it's a teaching space," Clericuzio says. The library can be used for independent research, reading tutorials, or individual tutoring by the many volunteers at the school.
About 70 people attended the library opening, including parents, community members, and administrators from the Edmonton Catholic school district. Students performed aboriginal drumming songs, a lion dance and songs reflecting the diverse cultural nature of the school's population.
"We like to tell our students that our multicultural nature is like a rainbow," Clericuzio says. "Our motto is 'Together we're better.'"
The theme is reflected in a portrait donated by local photographer C.W. Hill, and unveiled at the opening ceremony. Entitled Children of the World, the portrait depicts a handful of the school's students dressed in traditional clothing from their various ethnic backgrounds.
The ceremony also included smudging the new library with sweetgrass, an aboriginal ritual which Father Jim Holland from Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples explained brings harmony.
"We use it today to bring harmony to this place in which our children will be learning, exploring and embarking on new adventures," Holland said.
Moe Bessette, from the division's school operations services, says the library renovation project "is reflective of how this school operates - it is a partnership with family and with the community.
"When you walk into this school, you can feel the ambience of family and community, and when I see the group gathered here today, it enhances that."
"This school makes a real difference in the lives of children," Kobbero agrees. "The support programs at the school are amazing, and the dedication of all the staff has to be applauded."
"The dream of a new modern library space is rooted in providing a strong education program and learning opportunities for students," Clericuzio adds. "This is a fine new facility that will carry us through the 21st century."