Tiger Mountain Community High School students seek funding for teen-centric library

November 13, 2012

By Lillian O'Rorke

John Green, author of ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ is a favorite among teen readers at Tiger Mountain Community High School. By Lillian O’Rorke

Four years ago, most students at Tiger Mountain Community High School were not interested in picking up a book. Now, the school’s small library has trouble keeping students from exceeding their check-out limit.

“Students fought me reading short stories. They simply would not consider reading a novel until we got the library,” said Lane Helgeson, who teaches language arts and several other courses at the school. “It’s becoming a culture of reading here.”

Things started to change for his students four years ago, when Helgeson and fellow teacher Joy Allison petitioned for a grant from the Issaquah Schools Foundation. The alternative high school did not have a library and they wanted to change that.

The foundation answered their call and has since donated about $30,000 to start and help maintain the school’s teen-centered library. Help has also come from the Issaquah School District and the PTSA, and now the students are lending a hand as well.

If you go

Tiger Mountain rummage sale and auction

  • Noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 7
  • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 8
  • Noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 9
  • Tiger Mountain Community High School
  • 355 S. E. Evans St.

Tiger Mountain Community High School

To graduate from Tiger Mountain, seniors must complete 20 hours of community service. The class of 2013 elected to use those hours to raise funds for the library by hosting a rummage sale and silent auction. The goal is to raise $2,000 for new reading materials.

“I would personally love more fiction books,” said Madison Catterall, a senior working on the project who aspires to become a book editor. “I really love to read … Reading makes you more creative.”

At the moment, Catterall is reading “Accidentally Dead,” by Dakota Cassidy. The library, less than half the size of an average classroom, is home to “new classics,” high-interest books for teenagers. Many of the tiles come from the American Library Association’s reluctant readers list.

“Our students aren’t into ‘Huck Finn’ or ‘Catcher in the Rye’ but they love ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ something a bit more edgy,” Helgeson said. “Any reading students do helps their reading scores, their writing scores.”

The students like authors like Sherman Alexie and John Green, Helgeson and Allison explained. They’ve seen the teens fly through “The Hunger Games” and the nearly 1,000 pages of “The Pillars of the Earth.”

“The kids kind of expose one another,” Allison said. “It’s amazing how one student will pick up something and their enthusiasm will spill over.”

The students are not just checking out books from the library; they are also helping run it. Because Tiger Mountain is a small school, there are not enough students for the district to justify hiring a full-time librarian. So, the students themselves have learned how to catalog and check out books. They were also the ones who picked out the carpet, the furniture and took the measurements to build bookshelves. Working in the library, Allison said, has become a rite of passage.

Before the fundraiser can happen, students are seeking donations from the community. Suggested items include children’s clothes, safe child toys, household tools, utensils and equipment, working children’s computer toys, as well as gently used household furniture or camping equipment and sporting goods.

Students are also seeking donated goods and services from local businesses for the silent auction. Among items that have already been donated for the auction is a gift certificate to a local spa. Donations can also be made in the form of cash or check at Tiger Mountain’s school office.

While items for the rummage sale have already begun to arrive, the students are hosting a community donation drive from noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 1 at Issaquah Newport Way Storage on Northwest Juniper Street in Issaquah.

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