Extreme Makeovers revealed

Published 2:37 pm Friday, July 2, 2010

Our Pelham schools appear deceptively quiet during the summer.

Without the constant presence of teachers and children, the schools seem a bit deserted.

And yet, there always seems to be what playwright Thornton Wilder called, “a buzzin’ and a hummin’ from the school buildings.”

At Valley Intermediate School, I found Media Specialist Mary Foy involved in the final stage of what she calls, “extreme book makeovers.”

Foy’s idea began when she realized how drab her older books were when compared to the library’s newer books. She realized the older volumes were not being checked out as frequently as books with more contemporary covers.

Foy turned to her creative team, her Valley Intermediate School students, to seek assistance in updating those outdated book covers.

Asking fourth graders and some fifth graders to choose and read books that had outdated covers, Foy told the students to visualize and draw an image they felt better represented the stories they read.

Foy’s creative team went the distance to create contemporary covers for timeless stories that needed a facelift. Foy knew these covers had to go to the next level to end up on her school’s books.

“I am surprised that our technology lab aide, Tammy Anderson, still speaks to me. I asked her to scan all of the students’ artwork and she scanned every drawing into our computer system beautifully,” Foy said.

Once the artwork was scanned, Foy taught students technology lessons enabling them to create the covers.

“We took photos of the students and let them know that they would be given credit for the cover art in our school library books’ new jackets,” she said.

Using Microsoft Publisher, the students created their covers complete with their artwork, photos, brief bios and book spines. Meagan Massey created one of these covers.

“I chose Island of the Blue Dolphins to recover. I had read the book and I knew it was great, but our library cover didn’t represent the story,” Massey said.

Massey showed me her extreme book makeover with pride, explaining how and what she did to create her book’s new cover.

As a rising sixth grader, Massey moves on to middle school, leaving her old school a legacy representing her creative and computer design skills.

“The book won a Newbery Medal. It’s a great book and I wanted it to look great,” Massey said.