Middle school students write a book to keep forever

Lopez middle school teacher Colleen Currie’s students had been studying Lopez Island history and giving in-class presentations for some time, but Currie thought they could do even more. She believed they could write and publish a book about the history of Lopez Island — an actual, tangible, book that they could keep forever.

With the help of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the Lopez Island Library this ambitious and expensive project became a reality.

The Foundation’s Making Connections Library Initiative “invites public libraries to propose projects that help librarians increase awareness and patronage of their libraries’ unique offerings.”

The Foundation is particularly interested in projects that “increase the visibility and use of reference and information services in which librarians act as guides to information.”

Librarians Lou Pray and Karen Rogers concluded that Currie’s idea met the Foundation’s goals and submitted a proposal last May.

The Foundation awarded a grant of $6000 to the library for the student-written Lopez history book project.

The project began in January with topic selections and field trips to the library.

Topics ranged from Lopez place-names to ferries to Orca whales. Students learned about the history resources that are available through the library’s website, databases, and interlibrary loan services.

Lopez Island Historical Society’s excellent digital collection Washington Rural Heritage ( was a valuable resource for digitized photos of items in the museum’s collection.

Mark Thompson-Klein, director of the Lopez Island Historical Society and Museum, provided articles and gave a presentation at the Port Stanley Schoolhouse on copyright rules.

Mark and Connie Kyser, and Karen Alexander assembled an artifact display that gave students a glimpse into the daily life of early Lopezians.

Students supplemented their research by interviewing members of the community for information on the ferry system, commerce, and electric power.

Charles and Nancy Givens provided layout and proofing expertise for the final book.

In June the students will each receive a copy of the book they coauthored called “The Place We Call Home”. The public and school libraries will also have copies.

Students will give a group presentation about the project on Monday, June 13, 10:10 a.m. at the Lopez School Library.

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