Moveable seats, skylights, and comfy couches are being enjoyed by students at Wellington High School’s revamped library.
The overhaul was first proposed to the board of education in 2016 by district media specialist Emily Campofredano with the goal of transforming the library into a “media hub” modeled after projects at Mentor High School and Columbus’ Big Walnut Middle School.
She spoke of embracing students’ capability to multitask and desire to not always learn in straight rows of desks and chairs.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Walcheck said she and fellow students are happy to be able to kick back, learn in groups, and even listen to music as they work.
“I feel like it’s better to have things more spaced out like this,” she said. “You can be in groups and find ways to work better together. This has made it easier for us to focus on more than one thing at once.”
Approximately $65,000 has been spent on the redesign with most funds coming from the school district. The Wellington Schools Endowment Fund contributed $4,700 toward new televisions, dry-erase boards, countertops, and lighting.
Library technician Chris Stumphauzer, who spearheaded the project along with Campfredano, said grant dollars are being sought to turn a storage room into a video production area complete with a green screen.
“Over the past few years we saw a huge decrease in study hall library use,” she said. “It was just a shame. I started doing research on what other schools have done to address this and found that some have increased library use by 1,000 percent after a redesign.”
According to Stumphauzer, WHS’ study hall library use in September increased by 115 percent compared to last year.
“The kids come down and want to work in here now,” she said. “It’s just incredible. They want to be here and sit and work. The jump in use isn’t even counting the classrooms that are coming down. Kids aren’t goofing off in here. They can put their headphones on, zone out, and write a paper.”
While some area schools have gotten rid of books entirely when revamping their libraries — such as Amherst Steele High School — approximately 7,000 books remain at WHS. Non-fiction has been separated into genres and dated history books have been done away with.
Teacher Dave Conklin also seemed happy with the changes as he worked with his English students. It was the first time he had taken a class to the new library.
“This is a very casual environment that invites them to come in here more,” he said. “To be able to sit in little groups like this and quietly work together rather than the old setup, it’s great. It’s more of a lounge atmosphere. The kids still work and they communicate.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.