- New Caney ISD
WFHS Uses Makerspace to Service Others and Build Community
During the 22-23 school year, West Fork High School students participated in over 200 hours of service in the WFHS media center.
Students making slime in the WFHS makerspace
On Thursday mornings in the West Fork High School media center, students can be seen participating in a variety of activities, from making dog toys for the local animal shelter to painting flower pots to celebrate spring. These projects, hosted by media specialist Allyson Pitcel, aim to bring students together to learn about the library and servicing others.
Upon arriving at West Fork High School, Ms. Pitcel knew that she wanted to use the library to focus on building community among the students.
“When you look at what a library is, it's really evolved in the past 20 years,” Pitcel said. “It’s not just a place for books. It’s a place for thinking and creating. There are different librarians across Texas that I follow who have done these really cool things to celebrate culture and service, and to draw the kids into the space to help them realize that it’s more than just books.”
Ms. Pitcel and students used the WFHS 3D printer to create a model of Hogwarts.
For these projects, Pitcel utilizes the WFHS makerspace, which is a room attached to the library media center that is used for creating, innovating, and getting students to think outside the box. In the space, WFHS has 3D printers, robots, and even microphones for students to create their own podcasts.
“We have lots of things to help them take ownership of their creativity,” Pitcel said.
Throughout the 22-23 school year, there were a multitude of creative service projects for WFHS students. Typically, the media center hosts one service project per month, so students participated in over 200 hours of service in the media center alone. Students have created trick or treat bags for local outreach programs, written notes of gratitude to first responders, and decorated place mats for Meals on Wheels.
“To my knowledge, there are no other schools using their makerspace for service learning projects,” Library and Instructional Materials Coordinator Stacy Cameron said. “Ms. Pitcel's service projects show students a variety of ways they can serve their community and that serving doesn't always have to be a big project. We know that kindness spreads as students participate in these activities. The hope would be that those students would continue with their own acts of service and spread kindness to their friends, families, and community.”
Students writing notes of gratitude to first responders
Notes of gratitude to first responders
Service is a core value of West Fork High School, so the projects in the media center have brought different groups of students together to learn about the impact they can have on the community.
“When you’re 14 years old, you just see your bubble,” Pitcel said. “Our activities help them realize that there are areas of need in our community. It also helps them see each other.”
Pitcel has also hosted projects to celebrate the different cultures at WFHS. Different activities include making red envelopes for the Lunar New Year, learning about the history of St. Patrick’s Day, and playing Lotería for Hispanic Heritage Month and Cinco de Mayo.
Students playing Lotería
“Ms. Pitcel is having great success with these projects,” Cameron said. “Not only are students able to serve others, they are seeing the library as more than a place for books. Whether students are checking out a book, getting help from the media specialist on using the library's research resources, reading quietly, or working on a school assignment, the school library is for everyone and that's the message we want our students to hear.”