OTHELLO — Students at Desert Oasis High School were looking for a project, something that would benefit the community and teach some lessons at the same time. The results of that project will be installed around Othello before the end of the school year.
The Little Free Library boxes were designed and built by DOHS students, said principal Josh Tovar. The students identified the locations and wrote a presentation explaining the project, then talked to the property owners. They will help install the boxes, and will be in charge of a presentation for parents and community.
The Little Free Library was suggested by DOHS reading specialist Tamara Lumsden, and was discussed among the staff over the summer. When school started, “we took the idea and ran with it,” Tovar said.
It's the first venture into what’s called project-based learning at DOHS, Tovar said, where students in different disciplines are all working on the same thing. It’s also a way to get people to take another look at DOHS, “bring a positive perspective to our school.”
The concept is pretty simple. The boxes hold books – free books, and people are free to add more books, and free to take a book they find interesting. Well, it sounds simple. Desert Oasis students had to take the concept and turn it into actual boxes capable of holding real books.
Students in math and science classes worked on that, and other students designed the label that will go on each box. (The labels were printed with the Othello School District’s 3D printer.) Students designed a brochure explaining the project, and went around town to pitch it to business and property owners. “They definitely had to work together,” Tovar said.
And all DOHS students assembled in the gym one day to build the boxes, Tovar said, “80 kids into the gym with power tools.” They got help, either donated materials or materials at a price break, from local businesses Johnson Glass, Ace Hardware and Rental, and First Choice.
“What a mess, but what a cool project,” Tovar said.
“We learned a lot.” One of the lessons was that building a box can be tougher than it looks. “The kids found out that measurements were important.” People learn from mistakes, and there were a lot of mistakes, he said. They learned that the doors needed to be reinforced, which will delay the box installation for a while.
The students will work with local libraries to help start with a supply of books. And the school is accepting donations of books, both in English and Spanish. Books can be dropped off at the DOHS office, 825 East Ash St.
The project turned out to be a success, despite the need to re-cut some boards. “We did pretty darn good, considering what we took on,” Tovar said.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.