Class of 1954 stocks libraries

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London’s Class of 1954 decided their 45th-year reunion was a good time to get started on plans for a whiz-bang 50th.

Sure, the party was a priority, but the idea of leaving a legacy was bigger. Previous classes left behind engraved bells, plaques and the like. The Class of 1954 opted to go another direction.

“We wanted to do something that would academically help the students,” said Nancy Smith, a 1954 graduate and president of the London board of education. Smith’s husband, Jim, also is a member of the Class of ’54.

The graduates decided to raise funds for new books for the district’s libraries. Each year until the 50th reunion, Smith sent out reminders to her fellow graduates, asking them to donate if they were willing and able. By the time 2004 rolled around, the class had raised $14,063.

“Everybody was pleasantly surprised by the amount,” Smith said.

Shortly after their 50th-year reunion, the Class of ’54 deposited the collection into a special account with the London Schools Foundation.

At last Monday night’s school board meeting, nearly four years after the deposit was made, K-8 media specialist Shauna Good and high school media specialist Fiona Young publically thanked the class for their generosity.

“You cannot imagine the thrill of receiving funds to replace and expand our libraries’ collections with new, beautiful, updated books for our students’ reading, as well as updated books with current information for research,” Good said.

Good explained that the donation was made the same year the new London Elementary school opened. The district’s librarians were merging and purging collections from the old elementary, Deercreek and Somerford buildings, and updating the middle and high school inventories.

The process took time, Smith said, and Good and Young wanted to make sure they spent the Class of ’54 donation wisely. As a result, they only recently depleted all but about $1,000 of the account. The remaining money will be used next school year.

With the donation, the district purchased approxi-mately 1,000 items, from books to DVDs.

Good is proud to report that the libraries at each building are thriving. Two at London Elementary—one for pre-K through second-graders and one for third- through fifth-graders—serves 1,000 students. The middle school library serves 502 sixth- through eighth-graders. The high school library serves 516 ninth- through 12-grade students. All totaled, students and staff checked out 17,948 items from the district’s libraries this school year, Good said.

“I think this speaks volumes for the libraries of London City Schools,” she added.

To “keep a helpline open to the libraries,” Jim Smith suggests that other classes start legacy campaigns of their own.

Smith and several other representatives of the Class of 1954 were on hand for the May 19 school board meeting at which they accepted thank-yous for their donations and celebrated the libraries’ successes. The media specialists treated the alumni to a reception and tour of the elementary and high school libraries. They decorated the halls with enlarged photos from the 1954 yearbook and presented the group with an oversized thank-you card signed by students.

While the graduates’ intentions were to leave a legacy not etched in stone, but rather in print, a more direct reminder could not be avoided. To show their appreciation, the district’s media specialists are mounting plaques in each of the district’s libraries in honor of the Class of 1954.

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