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CV Middle School's new library opening up new opportunities for students

| Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, 1:34 a.m.
Elanor Perkowski (left), 13, looks on while Sophia Le, 13, taps a plant to create a beat on a nearby computer.
Elanor Perkowski (left), 13, looks on while Sophia Le, 13, taps a plant to create a beat on a nearby computer.

Madison Crump smiled as she looked at the new library and media center at Chartiers Valley Middle School.

There were large windows that let the sun in. The red, yellow, blue and green walls were vibrant and cheerful. The high ceiling was open and the room spacious.

The space was filled with an array of new technology and cool opportunities for students to learn in new and different ways.

“It’s really cool,” said Madison, 13, an eighth-grader, who for the first time has the opportunity to anchor the school’s TV sports programming, thanks to the new media room that was built as an extension of the library.

“It’s different than any other library I’ve ever seen. You think of a very quiet, small, old library. But in here it’s very new and innovative and it kind of shapes kids to be more creative because it’s so creative.”

The library and media center at Chartiers Valley Middle School, known as the the HIVE, or Home for Innovation, Videography, and Exploration, opened to the entire school during the first week of October.

It’s the final part of the new state-of-the-art middle school to open to students. The new Chartiers Valley Middle School opened in segments during the 2017-18 school year, featuring a unique design where students learn in “houses.”

During the past several months, the HIVE was solely used by the school’s new media team, gifted students and during intervention and enrichment periods as teachers narrowed down the selection of books and entered them into the system to get ready for student borrowing, said Sara Benis, gifted teacher and HIVE coordinator.

Chartiers Valley Middle School previously shared a library with the high school. Many of the old books were donated to a charity in Africa. Others were sold, as teachers slimmed down the selection for the new space.

The HIVE still features books, but not ones that have fast facts kids can find online, Benis said.

As teachers prepared to move into the new school, they wanted to make sure this wouldn’t be just a typical library, said Cindy Holleran, eighth grade English language arts teacher.

They wanted to create a comfortable space for students to learn that featured technology not found in other parts of the school, Benis said.

“Education is changing,” Holleran said. “The kids feel more comfortable in different areas.”

So, they launched a brick sale, selling bricks from the old school and having students screen print the school’s logo on the side.

They also received a $10,000 donation to add tinkering technology, audio visual equipment and flexible seating from the Ken and Carol Schultz Foundation, run by a Chartiers Valley graduate.

Ninety percent of the technology in the HIVE is new, Benis said.

That’s provided a plethora of opportunities for students.

“A library is a good way to get the pulse of the school,” said Jake Locke, seventh grade social studies teacher. “Whatever is going on in a library, you can typically translate to what is going on in the rest of the school. We have some awesome things regarding technology.”

Inside the media room, which is part of the HIVE, students for the first time record morning news segments that are posted on YouTube and watched by the school every sixth day of classes. Some of the segments are recorded in front of a green screen that takes up the one wall.

The 20 member media team writes, films and edits news, sports, special features and even funny commercials, like on the trend of fanny packs coming back in style.

The HIVE has iPads with editing software, cameras, microphones, boom mics and tripods.

Evan Spurlock, 13, an eighth grader, said the new equipment has helped him expand his editing skills. He has access to more advanced software than the free programs he uses at home. He now knows how to animate.

They’re always trying something new. He and another classmate have created a podcast to take their classmates behind the scenes of the CVMS News broadcasts.

“We’re never bored,” Evan said. “We always have something to do.”

The technology and new space has helped students learn.

“I think it’s really good we’re getting introduced to all of this technology since it’s becoming a bigger part of our daily lives,” said Alaina Halbleib, 13.

Ava Spring, 13, said she likes that the students are no longer sitting at a desk writing all of their assignments. Instead, they’re getting out of the classroom and learning how to use things.

The HIVE also features Hummingbird kits and Makey Makey Invention kits that allow students to use circuits to create.

Elanor Perkowski, 13, stood in the hive and holding an apple.

She high-fived classmate Sophia Le, who was holding the branch of a plant.

The pumpkin on a computer picked up on the pulse of the high five and beat along with them.

That was a program Sophia built with the Makey Makey devices.

“I’m learning a lot. It’s kind of overwhelming, but it’s fun,” she said.

Just outside of the HIVE, students sat on the balcony that overlooks the football stadium and sky bridge that connect to the high school.

An intervention and enrichment period is held outside twice a week in the warm weather where students can read on the balcony and enjoy the sun.

“You feel like you’re at your home, just sitting outside on your deck,” said Sophia Vitale, 14. “Meanwhile, you’re still at school and you’re learning. It’s a good view, too.”

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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