Hard Work of Volunteers Supports School Library


(Thursday, February 22, 2007 5:43 AM EST)

Fairy-tale endings still come true, and St. Ann School in North Arlington proves it.

Through the donation of bookcases from a local law firm and the help of staff, parents and parish members, the school was able to renovate its library for only about $6,000, and now offers its students a brighter and more welcoming space for reading and learning.

“We knew we had to make repairs to the library,” said Sr. Elizabeth Ann McGuire, the school's principal. “And when the materials became available, we couldn't turn them down.”

Last June, all the books in the library were cleared out, new carpeting was installed and volunteers painted and assembled the 48 donated bookcases.

The centerpiece of the renovation, however, is an 18-by-8-foot, fairy-tale-themed mural, designed by librarian Mary Herrington and three devoted parents.

“I came up with the fairy-tale concept, but I didn't define it,” Herrington said. “It unfolded as the parents worked on it.”

The parent volunteers include Maria Shirron, a former architect; Maureen Howell, a freelance artist; and Carmen Filzen. They worked from a sketch, but let the painting evolve as they went.

Fairy tales represented in the mural include Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, the Ugly Duckling, the Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk and many more, especially ones that teach a lesson or moral.

“We tried to pick fairy tales that would resonate with the children,” Howell said.

There are also many little hidden drawings in the mural that students can search for.

The artistic process wasn't an easy one, since the library does not have air conditioning. The parents worked on the mural for about six weeks in June and July, often at night to avoid becoming overheated.

“Sometimes the paint would dry before the brush got to the wall!” Howell said.

But all the effort was worth it, they said, and the student response has been great.

“It's so wonderful,” Herrington said. “Students come in and just exhale. It's inspiring.”

Carmen Filzen, Sr. Elizabeth Ann McGuire, Maureen Howell, Maria Schirron and librarian Mary Herrington pose with students Christopher Shirron, Isabel Shirron and Ryan Howell in front of the library's new mural, which has a fairy-tale theme.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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