Over the course of the spring semester, Oceanside High School has taken large strides in implementing their district-wide reading initiative. Started in 2016 as #OSDGoRead and later adopting the title #BookLove, this movement to encourage reading for children and teens has evolved to become a significant factor in the Oceanside School District curriculum.
Christine Sartory, the OHS library media specialist, explained the noteworthy additions to the school’s library and community based on the new #BookLove initiative. According to Sartory, students want a “21st century library,” and the school worked to keep up with the students’ changing needs. In April, multiple bookshelves were removed from the library to open a lounge area for students. Sartory said that both paper book and e-book circulation has dramatically increased in the time since the renovation was made.
The space left vacant by the removal of the bookshelves has been filled with armchairs, tables where students can study or play board games, and “fit desks,” where students can sit and pedal while reading or working. Grace Snyder, a senior, emphasized that the revamped library was a place where students could “chill” and take a break from the stresses of school while playing mentally stimulating games such as Scrabble or chess. Junior Brian Strier said that the updates made to the library were “great.” “They’re made to bring in students who normally wouldn’t come into the library,” he said.
The library isn’t the only place in OHS seeing the #BookLove. New book vending machines have taken residence in the school’s hallways. The machines, opening in September for the 2019-20 school year, will dispense books to students who can use money or special tokens given out by English teachers to access them. “I’ve been to many high schools across Long Island and I’ve never seen something like this,” senior Spencer Jurgielewicz said. “I think that’s a really unique concept.”
Three new lending libraries have been built by OHS students Jonathan Curcio, John LaCasia, and Sean Michel. These libraries will be placed at OHS, Oceanside Middle School, and OHS Castleton, joining those already placed at the elementary schools. The walls of the OHS hallways have also been lined with posters of classic novels such as “The Great Gatsby,” “Lord of the Flies,” and “To Kill A Mockingbird,” in expansion of the #BookLove initiative.
Donna Kraus, the district’s public information coordinator, said administrators hope to extend the love of reading to the rest of Oceanside by bringing in authors, hosting book talks, and organizing book fairs to cultivate a reading community. “We’re breaking the mold,” Kraus said. “Living a ‘readerly’ life … that’s the type of culture we are aiming to foster in Oceanside.”