Terre Salzer, Hilltop Elementary School librarian began her Excel Grant application: “Several years of budget cuts are beginning to have a devastating effect on school libraries in the Highline School District. As the librarian, I have found it difficult to provide the materials that are requested by students and staff. I would like to purchase books for three different areas that are in need.”

One area is Big Books. These are “giant” versions of picture books. They are used by teachers to read aloud to their class. Students and teachers alike, benefit from them because they are so engaging. Even the students in the back rows can easily see the pictures and much of the story in picture books is told through the illustrations. The library now has a few, but they are dated and in poor condition.

I’d also like to purchase 2 copies of the books that are nominated for the Washington Sasquatch Award. Each year, 10 titles are nominated by 4-6th grade students in Washington. Students who read 3 or more titles are eligible to vote for their favorite in April. Encouraging students to read books in various genres and by various authors, helps broaden their perspective. Since these titles are nominated by students in Washington State, they have proven to be popular titles.

Another area in the library that is in dire need of help is our Spanish chapter book collection. We currently have approximately 40 chapter books available to our Spanish population. Nearly half of our students are literate in Spanish and as our Dual Language program expands to the intermediate grades, we have seen an increased demand for current titles in Spanish.

With the money from the grant, I was able to purchase several books for the library. I bought big books relating to science and social studies units taught in the primary grades. These books are “giant”, 2X3’, size and are useful for shared reading with a class. The photos, which communicate a lot of the information, are more easily viewed than those in a regular sized book. I also purchased chapter books in Spanish. Considering our Spanish population, our collection was minimal, so the funds allowed me to acquire many more titles. Grant money also allowed me to purchase 2 copies of each of the books nominated for the Washington Sasquatch award. They have been popular additions to the library. 4-6th graders have been reading them and are ready to vote for their favorites.

The purchases made with the grant money have made a difference for my school. The teachers were actually “arguing” over who would use the big books first, and the students were very excited to read the new Spanish titles that were available. The Sasquatch nominees are chosen by students from around the state, and are always favorites. There are long lists of students waiting to read the most popular new titles.

Sasquatch Award 2013 Award Winner:  Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. The 2014 Nominees are:

  •  The Dead boys / Buckingham, Royce
  •  Mockingbird / Erskine, Kathryn
  •  The Midnight tunnel / Frazier, Angie
  •  Charlie Joe Jackson’s guide to not reading / Greenwald, Tommy
  •  Zita the spacegirl:Far from home / Hatke, Ben
  •  Guinea dog / Jennings, Patrick
  •  Inside out & back again / Lai, Thanhha
  •  Liesl and Po / Oliver, Lauren
  •  The Great wall of Lucy Wu / Shang, Wendy Wan-Long
  •  Boys without names / Sheth, Kashmira
  •  Aliens on vacation / Smith, Clete
  •  The Boy at the end of the world / Van Eekhout, Greg

Since 1999, the Highline Schools Foundation has been supporting innovation and excellence in Highline Public Schools. Our funding priorities focus on programs to improve academic achievement, supporting college and career readiness, grants to teachers for engaging classroom projects, the arts, athletics, and programs that keep students in school and productive. Highline is a district full of need and opportunity. The Highline Schools Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated to all schools in our district—our goal is to help as many students as possible be successful!

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