Local Schools

Partnerships make new library, scholarship event possible

Holy Name eighth grader Melanie Villegas reads to her sister, first grader Alexa, in the school’s newly opened library in Kansas City, Kansas. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JOE CORY

by Jan Dixon
Special to The Leaven

Imagine a beautiful, well-organized and quiet place where students are welcomed to get carried away by a good book.

Such a place now exists within the walls of Holy Name of Jesus School in Kansas City, Kansas. What was once a storeroom is now a library!

It is a place where curiosity, innovative thinking and problem-solving are encouraged. As an important part of the culture of the school, the library helps connect students to their peers, to others within the school and the community, and even with the larger world.

The library is a result of collaboration, donations and the hard work of many people.

“Creating a library space was a top priority as part of our five-year strategic plan,” said Randy Smith, principal. During his first year at Holy Name, the library only consisted of a few books on tables and an old bookshelf.

“Reading for enjoyment, and to discover and understand, are important skills needed in daily life,” he said.

The need for a library space was evident.

Fortunately, when Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park set about repurposing its library space, Holy Name pastor Father Anthony Ouellette heard about it.

The high school agreed to donate the bookshelves to Holy Name and Father Ouellette went there himself, dismantled a full section, loaded it into his truck and took the pieces home.

With a little ingenuity and more than a little elbow grease, he was able to transform the shelves into ones that would fit perfectly into the new library.

Next, carpet squares were purchased from an Ascension School, Overland Park, contractor at a reduced rate.

Following the carpet installation, painting and some HVAC work, Father Ouellette and maintenance supervisor Mel Reiff installed the shelves and the library began to take shape.

The school had received many books through donations from schools that were closing last spring as well as from private individuals. This created a need to weed out older, no longer needed items.

Over the summer, student volunteers from St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City, Missouri, did the culling and worked to fill the shelves with quality literature and materials that were both age- and reading-level appropriate.

The library was ready to greet students when school opened for the 2020-21 school year.

This new space is stocked with lending books, research materials, teacher resources and adaptive materials. With a flexible multiuse approach, it enables a range of activities, including quiet reading, study, collaboration, performance or community events.

“We have a strong partnership with the University of Kansas. Their speech pathology students use the library and some of the materials to work with our preschoolers on a weekly basis,” said Smith.

Holy Name School also has a strong business team partnership, whose purpose is to support the school in planning and managing finances so it will thrive in years ahead.

Kristi Ernsting, Curé of Ars, Leawood, parishioner and member of Holy Name’s business team, helps with fundraising events as well as marketing and communications.

“I love being involved where you can see a need and see how much impact donations make,” she said.

The pastor and the principal agree that it has been helpful to bring others from outside the local community into the effort to make Holy Name School more viable and healthy.

“Outside perspective is helpful and can generate new ideas and grant access to resources that were not previously available,” said Father Ouellette.

The business team didn’t do a lot of physical work with the new library but have been instrumental in securing funds for “Suds & Scholarships.”

This annual fundraising event will be held on May 3 at the Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Missouri. The organizing team invites everyone to help raise funds for much-needed scholarships for Holy Name students by becoming an event sponsor, purchasing a raffle ticket or by donation. (See website address below). 

Michael Morrisey and his wife Patty lead the School Advancement Program for the archdiocese. They work with selected schools and their business teams to continue bringing Catholic education to more students.

“If you are looking to get involved in a way that makes an immediate impact, join us by supporting our ‘Suds and Scholarships’ event. You’ll be glad you did,” said Morrisey.

For more information, go online to: one.bidpal.net/holyname21/welcome.

About the author

Jan Dixon

Jan Dixon grew up in Kansas City where she attended Catholic grade school and high school. After college graduation and marriage, she and Greg lived in Springfield, Missouri and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and finally settled in Olathe, KS where they raised three sons. Jan taught kindergarten through high school for 37 years before retiring. She and Greg are members of St. Paul in Olathe.

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