Riverhead School District officials unveiled the new library at the Phillips Avenue Elementary School Thursday, marking the first completed facility upgrade paid through a $78.3 million bond approved in 2011.
Work began at Phillips – the second oldest school in the district — this summer with reconfiguring the parking lot and bus drop-off loops, beautifying the entrance and gutting the school’s library to make room for a new “21st century” center.
The former 850-square-foot library has been expanded into a 2,000-square-foot space complete with designated learning spots, including a stadium seating section for readings, a collaborative-learning area with tables to conduct research projects and a computer lab.
The library is also slated to receive new windows, which will be paid through an energy performance contract.
In addition to new flooring and furniture, each of the three sections has a separate smartboard.
Phillips principal Debra Rodgers said she’s pleased with final results because it will encourage students to read more and to think creatively.
“It’s really exciting,” she said. “The community deserves this.”
Riverhead resident Bobbie Brown, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, said he believes the space is the ideal environment for students to learn.
“This is gorgeous,” he said. “The transformation is just incredible.”
Phillips librarian Melanie Ash gave a tour to her students Thursday prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony and explained to them how they should use each section of their new space.
After showing her students how the library book checkout system works, Ms. Ash asked them to pick something to read.
“Here’s the Star Wars section, but some of these books can be a little rough,” she told her student William Pippin, 8.
“I can try,” he said. “I like those stories. My friend has Star Wars books and we read them on the bus.”
After the group of students picked something out, Ms. Ash read to them in their new read aloud area.
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” Superintendent Nancy Carney said about the completed project. “This is a wonderful day for Riverhead and I can’t wait for the work to progress on our other buildings.”
Ms. Carney said the Riley Avenue Elementary School will undergo a similar transformation as Phillips and the Aquebogue Elementary School will receive a new cafeteria. Capital improvement projects are scheduled to being at Riverhead High School this spring and at the middle school next fall. Construction at Roanoke and Pulaski elementary schools will start in spring 2014, she said.