The Bell Chimes

Commerce Public Library’s Event Winners and More

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The library was silent as we all waited for the guest speakers from Commerce to arrive. Minutes that could have been spent in homeroom, eating breakfast were spent as the librarian, Ms.Salanoa stalled for time. She makes a joke about the guests being lost, and was about to embark on a distracting rant, when those who were thought to be lost were suddenly “found.” And with their sudden appearance, they strode in, capturing our attention. Here they were, the guest speakers from Commerce Public Library.

Every year, the public library of Commerce holds a writing contest, as well as a reading contest. Students grades 4th to 12th, are given a specific topic to write an essay about. Ruth Pelayez and Chris Alfaro won 1st and 2nd place, respectively.. The topic for this year’s essay was “If I Could Travel Anywhere, I Would Go to….” The winner, Ruth Pelayez, was able to personally connect to the essay topic because she wrote about her birth place and where she was raised. She skillfully wrote about her upbringing and how it has shaped her to be the person she is today. When asked as to how she felt, she described her feelings of pride. She claims to feel this way due to the fact that there were hundreds of others who entered the contest, yet she came out on top. She highly recommends people to participate in this event if they can, because “you’ve got nothing to lose and you may even win a prizes!” She also mentioned that if she were to choose a topic to write about, it would be to describe the struggles that helped you grow into a better person.

The guests from Commerce Library have been sponsoring this program for over a decade. They say that the main goal of this program is to help students prepare for college by improving their writing skills while also increasing the amount of pleasure a student gets from writing. They mentioned that this year’s group was outstanding in many ways. One speaker revealed that when this year’s topic was being chosen, they asked the staff for recommendations.

A topic from a previous year was similar to this year’s: “If you could time travel, where in time would you go?”  One particular student wrote a very interesting essay, though it was more of a short story. The main character went into the future to see their family, and how they were fairing. She found that they all were depressed, because she had shown up on the anniversary of her disappearance. She never told them who she was, and went on her way. As she was crossing the street, she was run over by a truck. The reason she disappeared in the past was because she went to the future and died there. There was no real lesson learned from the story, other than be cautious and aware of your surroundings, but they claim that was more implied than stated. A topic that they hope for next year is, ‘If you could change one thing about the world, what would you change?’

The judging process is anonymous. No one knows who wrote what, so that there is no bias. With the amount of essays turned in, which is about a couple hundred, the judging process takes about 2-3 weeks. It is a long and challenging process; however, it seems to be effective.

The reading contest is based upon how many pages a student reads, but the participants seemed to be less enthusiastic about the whole thing. During the entire 5 minutes of presenting the prizes, most of the students were just on their phones, or talking to each other. This group showed signs that the contest was more of an assignment forced upon them rather than a contest they longed to win. There were four certificate winners from Ms. Moore’s class, while the top two were from Ms. Vargas’ class. The runner up, Andre De Andra read 866 pages, which itself is pretty impressive for 87 days, but that is nothing compared to the top winner, Victoria Velez, who read 947 pages. Still, even the winners of the contest gave lackluster responses when asked about the contest.

The Commerce Public library has many more programs besides these two. They have a summer reading program that is just like a book club, where every two weeks of membership and attendance, you get a prize. Signing up gets you a pen, 2 weeks of membership earns a light box, 4 weeks is a notebook, and completing the program is a very ‘fashionable’ bag. On a Friday there is the 13 painting night, where a artistically inclined librarian helps people go through simple steps of a painting, until you have something brag-worthy to take home. There is also a comic creation program, where writers and artists are paired up to make a comic, that really gets published for people to read. The Commerce Library really just wants to give the rising generations, especially teenagers, voices that can be heard, because soon, this will be their world, and they are already trying to help fix and change it. Teens are trying hard to make their efforts seen, so the library will do all they can to help.

They also mentioned that there is an annual book festival, and that this is a student and staff effort. They look to the teens to help participate in the planning events for the festival. Students and staff unite to talk on panels, and much more. This gives the teens more experience with leadership roles and freedom to make decisions. They hope that more students will participate in the provided programs like these, as well as in their own school library.

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Commerce Public Library’s Event Winners and More