WEST ORANGE, NJ – An anonymous donation of $250,000 to create the Kelly Elementary School Library Media Center was announced by the school’s principal, Dr. Joanne Pollara, at the Monday’s West Orange Board of Education (WOBOE) meeting.

In announcing the gift, Pollara said the donor made the gift in honor of a teacher who helped him become a better reader, which he said transformed his life. The donor, who Pollara said might come forward publicly in the future, is a parent of a former Pleasantdale Elementary School student.

The state-of-the-art library media center will be designed by Soyka Smith Design Studios, which designed the critically aclaimed West Orange High School (WOHS) library. Alongside Pollara, Nancy Mullin, supervisor of career education & library science, and Ingrid Narvaez presented the plan for the center on behalf of Bridget Soyka Smith, who was unable to make the meeting.

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Narvaez walked those in attendance through the outer space inspired floor plan, which includes an Endeavor Makerspace for older students, a Time Machine Workshop, a Lego Wall for younger students, The Exploration Module, the Discovery Capsule, a Take Off Display and a Technology Capsule. There will also be a star chart inspirational wall covering throughout the room.

The displayed plans also showed a colorful STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) Room, made with butcher block tables and stools.

“The idea was to create a space control environment, which always excites students,” said Mullin.

Narvaez pointed out that the book cases will be mobile so they can be easily moved to make room for different events and activities.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the Kelly Elementary School,” said Superintendent Jeffrey Rutzky.

He added that there will be no structural changes needed to create the center in the building. The new center will be built from the current library and adjacent offices. 

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