By Kathy Kennedy-Miller, Summit Prep Charter High School parent.
A new reading library was recently created at Summit Prep Charter High School in Redwood City by Woodside resident Erin Miller and many volunteers.
Rarely seen without a book in her hand, Erin wanted to improve the library at her high school, where, in 2014, 100 percent of graduates applied to a four-year college and 97 percent were admitted. Summit spends about $4,000 a year per student less than local public high schools. As a result, some things, like the library, get overlooked.
Her English teacher urged Erin to focus her Girl Scout project on the Summit Prep library, starting with the college reference library.
After securing a donation from Princeton Review, Erin brought in 70 test prep books plus college guides. By December 2014, the college reference library was open for business.
"It is an honor library since we have no money for either a librarian or a system," Erin explains. "And it is really being used. We can't keep ACT (American College Tests) books on the shelves."
Next she took on the student reading library, which had five bookcases that were overflowing but "what was in them was pretty uninspiring," Erin says.
The room itself was depressing. The lights weren't working and most of the furniture had disappeared. The carpet was badly stained and partly held down with black duct tape. Erin approached Home Depot in San Carlos to see if they would help. They said yes.
With the help of her adviser, Janet Weisman Goff of Menlo Park, who helped create the library at Summit's sister school, Everest, Erin purged the reading library of more than 500 books. Many books found better homes in teacher classrooms.
Erin set about refilling the bookcases. "We needed more fantasy, science fiction and historical fiction," Erin says. "We needed books that teenagers actually want to read."
With no budget, Erin added 500 "like new" books, many from the Menlo Park and Redwood City libraries.
With help from Girl Scout "Skipper" Teri Marizano, a librarian in Newark, and Tracey Bobrowicz, a Menlo School librarian, Erin created an organizational system using color coding by genre. The system was installed with help from the Summit Student Senate and members of her Girl Scout troop.
Led by San Carlos store manager John Plungy and with guidance from Atherton designer Judy Massey, Home Depot's volunteer team painted the walls a warm orange, steam cleaned the dirty carpet, built new bookcases and put in new window blinds.
"The space is now welcoming, student-friendly and helps promote literacy," says Assistant Summit Director Wren Maletsky, who helped reshelve books.
Sandra Cheung who leads the Summit parent volunteer organization, notes: "The new library is a great example of a student seizing the opportunity to lead and rally a group of community members behind a purpose."
Erin is still on the lookout for a furniture donation for the reading library. "And I have a list of books on Signup Genius we would love to receive," she says.
Click here to see the list.
Erin is a member of Girl Scout Troop 32609, an eighth- to 12th-grade troop open to girls throughout Northern California. It is located at the Port of Redwood City and is the only "big boat" Mariner troop in the U.S.
The crew members of the MSS Tradewind learn engineering, navigation and communication skills aboard their 52-foot Vietnam War-era boat.
Email Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about her project.