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New library, ‘new world of possibilities’

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On the day of the ribbon-cutting for the new St. Jerome Library at St. Thomas More Catholic Academy in Washington, the banner outside the door showed an open book, with a rocket ship flying, a ship sailing and a castle’s tower stretching from its pages.

Cutting the ribbon was Andrew Lampkin, a 13-year-old whose confirmation project helped make the library possible, and Erica Jones, the school’s librarian, who opened the doors to smiling students.

“I’m overwhelmed with joy,” Jones said during a ceremony at the school. “This has been such an amazing process and outcome.”

In an interview, Lampkin, a member of St. Luke Church in McLean and an eighth grader at Maret School in Washington, explained how that day came about.

“I was coming up with a community service project for my confirmation, and I heard there was a school in D.C. that needed a new library,” he said.

Then the teen launched the St. Jerome Project for the St. Thomas More Academy library, and worked with Jones to compile wish lists of books. He spread the word about his project with friends, neighbors, and parishioners, and used the website stjeromeproject.com to collected used books and provide links where donors could purchase wish list books on Amazon or make cash donations.

“I really enjoy reading, so I thought I could give kids the chance to read, because I think all kids should have the chance to read great books,” Lampkin said.

The reaction, he said, was “incredible,” and the school received more than 2,000 books for the library. His effort inspired a donor to fund the library’s renovation, which included painting the walls, installing new floors and bookshelves, an updated library inventory system, and 30 new computer tablets.

“It’s really nothing I could have imagined,” the teen said. “I’m really excited. I’m so happy the kids can see all these books and read some of my favorite books.”

The library is named for St. Jerome, the scholar in the early church who translated the books of the Bible into Latin and is the patron saint of libraries and librarians.

Washington Auxiliary Bishop Roy Campbell Jr. blessed the new library, sprinkling holy water on it and the guests, and saying that he hoped all the children who use the library will be inspired by Christ to help create a better world.

After the ribbon-cutting, students hurried into the new library, surveying the shelves, holding books in both hands, or sitting on the floor to read.

“Once you come in here, it makes you want to read a book,” said seventh grader Calique Barnes.

Eighth grader Chikodili Onianwah, said she looked forward to coming to the new library during her study hall hours, “to take the time to learn and read about something new.”

Her classmate Precious Jackson said the renovated library with the bright colors on its walls “is a big step up” and said she was excited about “all of the good books to read.”

“I hope to get to read a number of books I’m interested in before I leave for high school,” she said.

Reprinted with permission of the Catholic Standard.

 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020