Books, resources aren’t lost on Wa-Nee students

NAPPANEE — As the digital age continues to transform and revolutionize the world around us, it can seem somewhat quaint and rather reassuring that young people can occasionally find time to unplug and become lost in the treasures of books. 
That is precisely the trend that appears to be setting in at NorthWood High School, as described in a report to the Wa-Nee Board of School Trustees presented during the June 25 session.
Statistics provided by Heather Bontrager, library media specialist for NorthWood High School, showed a significant increase in all aspects of usage during the course of the 2011-12 school year.
“We saw a dramatic increase in the number of books being checked out by students this school year,” Bontrager stated in her documentation. “Student usage of databases for research increased as more teachers required students to use Inspire or CQ Researcher,” she further noted. “The media center offered instruction and ongoing help with effective searching using these databases.”
According to the calculations of the media center staff, the total number of materials checked out rose from 8,254 in the 2010-11 school year to 11,004 in the recently-concluded academic year, for an increase of 30 percent.  Items classified as fiction climbed from 4,471 to 6,441, upwards of 40 percent. The use of the InterLibrary Loan program allowed for the numbers to skyrocket from 71 to 188, a ratio of a 60 percent increase.
“Finding resources for students with lower reading levels to use to complete the biographical research paper was one of the services we were able to provide through the use of InterLibrary Loan,” Bontrager explained.
    The number of classes in the media center also inched upward, from 440 to 462. 
“We collaborated with many teachers, as well as the public library, to ensure that students had the appropriate resources for all of their many projects and assignments,” Bontrager noted.  She also conducted two training sessions with teachers and staff on how to maximize the SmartBoard in the various classrooms. Special incentives and contests were held during the year to spark interest and motivate students to read, also. 
During “Teen Read Week,” the media center sponsored a competition through which students could submit photos representing book titles. The contest winner received a Kindle as the top prize. At the observance of “National Library Week,” there was a weeklong promotion tailored toward the theme of the popular young adult book, “The Hunger Games.” Drawings and contests were held to intrigue the students into checking out books.
Bontrager also used her presentation to thank Nicole Davis for her expertise in the accomplishments of the past scholastic year.
“She was a great addition to the media center.  She learned quickly and worked diligently to contribute to a productive and successful year.  I look forward to working with her again next year as we meet the challenges and opportunities that await in 2012-13.
 In other items addressed and acted upon by the board, members approved the renewal of two annual contracts, one existing between the district and the 2012-13 Child Nutrition Program. The other renewal allows for the continuation of an agreement between Wa-Nee Schools and its alliance with The Crossing, an alternative school which works with students classified as at-risk, and those who may benefit from a non-traditional classroom setting.
Two personnel changes were accepted by the board, including the resignation of Eileen Bormann, who stepped down as the Guidance Counselor for Wakarusa Elementary as of June 13. Erin Burggraf was hired as a Special Education Assistant for NorthWood High School, with her role taking effect Aug. 16.
The Wa-Nee Board of School Trustees will meet just once in the coming month, Monday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Administration Building. The second meeting, originally set for Monday, July 23, will be cancelled in observance of the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.