St. Anne’s-Belfield School class builds free library for Bennett’s Village

St. Anne's-Belfield School libraryThe “Leveling the Playing Field” class, led by eighth grade student Jack Dozier ’23, has been a force in the St. Anne’s-Belfield School Learning Village this trimester.

Designed like other Grades 7 & 8 Quest electives to answer one main question (How Can We Level the Playing Field for Children in Charlottesville?), Dozier and his Quest-mates decided to spend their class time raising money for Bennett’s Village and constructing two Little Free Libraries to enhance the Charlottesville community.

A library volunteer himself, Dozier proposed a Quest to create Little Free Libraries when he began to think of ways to ensure that his fellow Charlottesville residents would always have access to reading material.

“A Little Free Library is similar to the ‘take a penny, leave a penny’ concept,” he explained. “The goal of the Little Free Library is to make it easy for all families to own books and to spread a love of reading.”

One of the libraries, which turned out to be twice the size of students’ original plans, will be donated to the Virginia Discovery Museum on May 23. The second library, built on a metal frame that allows access for those using wheelchairs, will be donated to Bennett’s Village with the hope that it will be included in the plans for a multigenerational, all-abilities playground in Charlottesville.

Named for Bennett McClurken-Gibney, a local boy who lived with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type I, Bennett’s Village is an organization dedicated to making the world a more inclusive place for all to play. According to the organization’s website, Charlottesville City Council has agreed to enter into a partnership with Bennett’s Village, designating Pen Park as the future site of the all-abilities playground.

Taemane Pua’auli ’23 joined the Quest after hearing Bennett’s story from Learning Village Librarian Sarah FitzHenry.

“During the summer I’ll be helping Bennett’s Village, and I’m going to be really happy that it’s happening, and that our little library will be a part of it,” she said.

Quest students raised more than a thousand dollars for Bennett’s Village through “Change Challenges,” and collected close to 200 books to stock the Little Free Libraries once they arrive in their new homes.



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