Highlands Elementary celebrates new library nearly one year later

Maggie Erickson, center right, library media specialist, cuts the ribbon alongside Saugus School District board memebrs Christopher Trunkey, left, Matthew Watson, center left, and Katherine Cooper, right, on Feb. 8. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Maggie Erickson, center right, library media specialist, cuts the ribbon alongside Saugus School District board memebrs Christopher Trunkey, left, Matthew Watson, center left, and Katherine Cooper, right, on Feb. 8. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Share on facebook
Share
Share on twitter
Tweet
Share on email
Email

Highlands Elementary School finally celebrated the opening of its new library nearly a year later and after two years of construction on Thursday with a ribbon cutting, bookmark station and cookies and lemonade.  

Attendees were also treated to a special reading, by Library Media Specialist Maggie Erickson, of one of her favorite books: “The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors.” 

Highlands Principal Susan Bender expressed the excitement in having a transformed space for the students, who had been patiently waiting, to enjoy. 

“It’s a very welcoming space where students have more ability to sit and read and enjoy a book — you often see them sitting here on the couch just snuggled up with each other, shoulder to shoulder,” Bender said. 

Highlands Elementary principal Susan Bender, right, is handed a shovel by Saugus Superintendent Colleen Hawkins, center, and President Matthew Watson, left, during the ribbon cutting on Thursday, Feb. 8. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Highlands Elementary principal Susan Bender, right, is handed a shovel by Saugus Superintendent Colleen Hawkins, center, and President Matthew Watson, left, during the ribbon cutting on Thursday, Feb. 8. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

From Tuesday to Thursday, Erickson looks forward to greeting her eager students and seeing the joy on their faces when they discover a new book. According to Erickson, graphic novels are most of the kids’ favorites, and as long as that is what inspires them to read, that is very important to Erickson. 

“In the spring of last year, we kind of got everything put together, but we were still waiting on bookshelves and it’s been an ongoing process. The kids were without a library for a long time, between COVID and the construction,” Erickson said. “I just love to see them in here enjoying books, I love to help them find books, I usually read a story or do a lesson with the older kids about how to find books. It’s a joy to have them here.” 

According to Erickson and Bender, after COVID happened, construction began in spring of 2021, resulting in two years of the students not having a library. Now, they not only have a library, but their old library has now been converted into a flex lab.  

“The flex lab is mainly used for science, but it’s also used for large art lessons, parent events, it’s really an open space — it’s flexible,” Bender said. “Our school enrollment is expanding so one of the reasons for moving the library into this space is it is much bigger than where the library previously was. And we want to make sure that we continue those library services into the future so that kids continue to read from books,” Bender said. 

Superintendent Colleen Hawkins address the crowd to celebrate the new library at Highlands Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 8. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Superintendent Colleen Hawkins address the crowd to celebrate the new library at Highlands Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 8. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

Saugus Union School District Superintendent Colleen Hawkins, as well as board President Matthew Watson and board members Christopher Trunkey and Katherine Cooper, shared their sentiments with the proud community members, parents, and most importantly, students. 

“Originally, this building, as you might know, was built without any walls. On the inside the classrooms were fully open. And while that was fun in some ways, in other ways, it was challenging,” Hawkins said. “We wanted to make sure that we repurposed all of that and brought the library into the heart of the school, because right as you enter the school building, you get to walk through the library.”  

Watson reflected on the investment in not only the school and its physical layout, but also in the teachers and students benefiting from it. Watson also presented Bender and Erickson with a golden shovel to “officially break ground.” 

“As you can see, the dollars were really well spent here at Highlands. With the flex spaces you can see how our students and teachers are able to move and use the spaces readily, but all thanks again, to our partnership with our community to fund projects like this and many others,” Watson said. 

Cooper’s daughter attended the elementary school, but back when the space had no walls. 

Maggie Erickson, center right, library media specialist, cuts the ribbon alongside Saugus School District board memebrs Christopher Trunkey, left, Matthew Watson, center left, and Katherine Cooper, right, on Feb. 8. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Maggie Erickson, center right, library media specialist, cuts the ribbon alongside Saugus School District board memebrs Christopher Trunkey, left, Matthew Watson, center left, and Katherine Cooper, right, on Feb. 8. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

“My daughter went here when there were no walls. So this is very exciting and it’s amazing now— it’s kind of like a little maze, but thank you to the community for, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, putting the money in for this. It definitely adds to the community and adds to the experience for the kids,” Cooper said. 

Trunkey not only remarked on construction being finished with the occasional issue of rain throughout the process, but also in the community’s support of Measure EE, a voter-approved $148 million bond to improve district facilities, according to the Saugus Union School District’s website

“It is always fantastic to see these projects finally come to fruition. I know this one was a bit of a challenge because of the rain; interestingly enough, we’re having quite a bit of [rain] at the moment. Thank you all for your support of the district of measuring EE,” Trunkey said. 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS