Students, families, staff members and guests of honor gathered in the beautifully renovated second floor library space at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School on Aug. 24. Guests of honor included Reba Daninski, Director for Community Relations for Target; Angie and Bill Halamandaris, Co-founders, Heart of America Foundation; D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray; Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells; Ward 6 School Board of Education Member Monica Warren Jones; Ward 7 State School Board of Education Member Dorothy Douglas; Amidon-Bowen Principal Izabela Miller; Amidon-Bowen’s new librarian Jessica Zeiler; and students of Dawn Gray’s third grade class. Adding to the fun was “Bullseye,” the Target dog.
The ribbon cutting marked the completion of the project that brings the underutilized space to the level of the needs of today’s students. It features 2,000 new books; eco-friendly design elements; new furniture, carpet and shelves; as well as new computers and iPads.
A special feature in the library is a bubblegum mosaic (yes, bubblegum!) created by artist Franz Spohn and executed by the children. It depicts the Amidon-Bowen Tiger mascot and the overarching message of this school and this library — READ. For those who would like to know the details, the mosaic includes 3,386 purple, 3,568 white, 534 yellow, 3,210 green, 689 pink, 3,158 orange and 829 red pieces of bubblegum.
The project was brought to completion by a small army of Target volunteers in bright red shirts who shelved the books, decorated the halls, decorated the front entrance to the school and hung the tree in the play yard with books. At 3:30 p.m. the celebration moved to the gym, the halls and outside in the play yard. All children in the school, their parents and siblings were invited to participate. Photographers took photos of the families and printed and presented them on the spot. All children went home with seven books, chosen for their grade level and a pair of “custom” decorated reading glasses of their own design.
In addition, Target’s program, Meals for Mind food pantry, provided bags of food for students and parents to take home. This program will continue with food distributions on a monthly basis. Target is joined by Martha’s Table to provide staple items and fresh produce to all Amidon-Bowen families for the next year.
Target has renovated five libraries this year in local elementary schools. Davis, Garfield, Garrison and Orr have all received renovations in addition to Amidon-Bowen. Over the past five years, Target has transformed 76 libraries countrywide. This year alone, Target has renovated 42 libraries across the nation. The company’s goal is to give $1 billion to education by 2015. Target is committed to helping more students read proficiently by the end of third grade.