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Baa Library Offers Summer Programs for Students

June 19, 2006 – Students and families staying on island this summer will be able to participate in a number of programs offered by the Enid M. Baa Library on St. Thomas. The workshops – which run from the end of June through the middle of August – include activities on energy conservation, marine life and gaming.
"Most of our programs will concentrate on areas like energy and the environment," said Baa librarian Rochelle Shells on Monday. "And to do that, we're tapping into some of the resources offered by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources – under which the libraries fall."
Shells said the programs would offer students a different theme each week and would keep them up to date with national science standards set by teachers across the United States. Participants in the workshops would also get to work with local environmentalists, go on field trips and hear about the importance of energy conservation from various guest speakers.
"The sixth- through eighth-graders in our 'Responsible Resource Use' program, for example, will be working closely with Ruth Gomez from the Division of Fish and Wildlife," Shells said. "And they will be looking at renewable and nonrenewable forms of energy, ecosystems and endangered species."
Shells added that each program would also teach kids how to put together a power point presentation and a bibliography, along with teaching them how to use the Internet as a research tool. "We're also going to putting together 'Web quests' for the students. And if they're learning about endangered species, for example, we'll give them a list of endangered species from a part of the world, and tell them to look up the endangered species of the Virgin Islands."
Shells said that a Web quest about careers in the gaming industry would also be put together for students participating in the library's Gaming Club, a program for students in grades eight through 12, who are interested in board games, video games or card games.
"Every day I noticed the same group of boys coming in and playing card games," she said. "And I thought it would be great to give them a way to continue that throughout the year." Shells added that after attending a conference about gaming on the mainland, she pitched the idea to Dr. Sheshagiri Alla, who donated the funding to launch the pilot program this summer.
The club will continue throughout the school year, however, and will culminate in a championship competition. Shells said the program would soon be developed on St. John and St. Croix, with students being able to compete in intra-island play.
"These games really help them improve their math and vocabulary skills, along with allowing them to have some fun," she said.
Other programs – such as the Get Energized to Read, which runs June 19 to Aug. 19 – are geared to help students with literacy skills. Through the program, students in various age groups have to read a certain number of books over the two-month period and fill out a log card for each title they read. The log cards require students to give a brief synopsis of the book along with a recommendation for fellow readers.
Students who complete the program – sponsored by the Friends of St. Thomas Public Libraries – are eligible to receive a $20 gift certificate to Dockside Bookshop. Program registration is through July 14.
Families are also able to participate in three different energy themed projects, from July 11-30, Shells said. She explained that the idea and materials for the project would be discussed on Tuesdays, while the project itself would be built on Thursdays and tested on Saturdays. "Right now we have a solar car project, a solar oven project and a fuel cell car model which should be able to run on water," she said.
Shells added that students unable to participate in the summer events could also take advantage of some of initiatives offered by the Baa Library throughout the school year. "We were awarded a grant, for example, from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the American Library Association which allowed us to obtain for nine of our public schools the 'We the People' series–15 titles on the theme of being an American," she said. "And we've been working with the book clubs from two of our high schools to go out and promote the series."
Shells said the library has also formed a local chapter of the national Close Up Club, which works with high school students interested in civics, government or "some form of leadership." She said the students, who were nominated by their teachers or counselors, would spend their year preparing to attend a workshop in Washington, D.C., where they would interact with members of Congress, visit national landmarks and federal agencies, and get to know other students from across the mainland.
For more information on any of the programs sponsored by the Baa Library, call 777-0630.

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