Oceanside High School students and staff have expressed their “#Booklove” in song, summing up three and a half years of district-wide reading initiatives in a four-minute music video.
In December, school officials submitted the video to the Follett Challenge for a chance to win money for the library. Follett is a content, technology and service provider for kindergarten through 12th grade and will judge candidates on how they convey their adaptability to student learning in the 21st century. The winners will also be chosen based on community support. Voting will take place from Jan. 20 to 24 at follettchallenge.com and oceansideschools.org.
“Making this video wasn’t just about entering a contest,” said OHS Librarian Christine Sartory. “It was about sending a message. In a day and age when some people are suggesting that libraries are dying, we wanted to show that nothing is further from the truth. Libraries are the heartbeat of the school.”
The music video, “In the Library,” uses the melody of Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” and changes the lyrics to convey the impact of OSD Go Read, the district’s blanket reading initiative. OHS student Matthew Miniero stars in the video as the lead singer and performer. He’s joined by about 200 peers holding books throughout the video, including members of the football team, dance team, ACE classes, ENL classes and broadcasting class. Cooper the therapy dog even makes an appearance.
“When I heard how much this would help the library if they won, [I knew] it was a worthy cause to make a complete fool of myself,” said Miniero, a senior theater and choir student. “If one thing has been constant in my four years of high school that I loved, it was the fun times being with my friends in the library — yeah, yeah, no pun intended — so it would be an amazing feeling to improve upon an already wonderful place.
“And hey, if not, I had a legitimate reason to jump around and have way too much fun in a place where I’d usually get yelled at for doing such.”
Sartory wrote the new lyrics to the song. Broadcasting class students, under the direction of their teacher Audrey Miller, shot and edited the video, which highlights the various programs that encourage reading.
OSD Go Read began in the 2017-18 school year. Dr. Beth Zirogiannis, the district-wide director of English, reading and libraries, led the charge with a goal of increasing circulation in the school libraries, ultimately getting students reading more for pleasure.
The programs within this initiative have included high school book fairs, live book readings via YouTube, literary-themed “parked” carpool karaoke and book vending machines in the high school. There are also “First Chapter Fridays” for all grade levels and a “One Book One Oceanside” program that includes the entire community.
In addition to programming, the library and reading initiative uses the hashtags “#Booklove” and “#OSDGoRead” to start a conversation around reading. “With every initiative, it got more exciting and made us want to do more,” Sartory said. “Ultimately we wanted circulation to go up and kids to read more and check out more books.”
Encouraging reading also entailed creating more relaxing space in the OHS library by removing some book stacks and adding comfortable seating, as well as fit bikes where patrons can exercise while reading. In addition, English teachers began making more room in the curriculum — and time in class — for students to read books of their own choosing.
Since the initiative began three years ago, circulation at the OHS library has tripled, Sartory noted. Whereas in the 2017-2018 school year, there were 446 checkouts, students checked out a total of 3,238 books in the 2018-19 school year. From September to December 2019, there were 2,175 checkouts.
“The impact is amazing,” Sartory said. “The changes are incredible, and the proof is in the numbers. Kids are reading so much more than they used to be.”
By entering the music video into the Follett Challenge contest, OSD could win up to $30,000 to use for library resources. Winners will be announced March 23.
“Ultimately, through the efforts of administrators, teachers, parents and students, we achieved our goal of increasing circulation,” school officials wrote in the proposal. “But we’re not finished yet! It took an unstoppable conviction that we could build #Booklove and we are thrilled with our results so far. We continue to believe there is no limit to what our community can accomplish when everyone works together and we look forward to setting new goals. We’ve only just begun.”