When Trenton Bordok, who is starting his third year as a librarian at Chelsea High School, heard the news that his library was the winner of this year’s BBF Shelf Help Award, he was so excited he stood on his chair, raised his arms in victory and exclaimed, “Yes!”
“My students here were surprised by my reaction when I read your email,” he says, adding, “This is fantastic news for our school community.”
Chelsea High School’s library was selected from a competitive pool of applicants for this year’s Shelf Help Award in the high school category. Shelf Help winners are treated to a special author visit organized by Wondermore, a local non-profit dedicated to bringing authors into underserved communities. The grant also raises funds from BBF festival-goers and the public to expand the library’s book offerings with books selected by Bordok to reflect the school community.
Chelsea’s student population is nearly 90% Hispanic, most of which are immigrants, says Bordok. It’s a community he enjoys working in. “My colleagues here are so motivated to do well for these kids, not just in the classroom but as good citizens. They care about them and want them to do well.” He says the students love reading graphic novels and manga. He is hoping the visit by a well-known author — the first of its kind at Chelsea — will help him toward his goal of building a culture of reading at the school.
“My colleagues here are so motivated to do well for these kids, not just in the classroom but as good citizens. They care about them and want them to do well.”
The library, he says, is usually bustling, with students there getting work done and socializing. “It’s a place for time off,” he says. Bordok hopes to build on that momentum to get students interested in the books that surround them there. Another motivator for applying for the Shelf Help grant was to stock Chelsea’s library with more books that will interest his diverse population of students. His list includes titles such as I was their American dream: A graphic memoir by Malaka Gharib and African American Inventors: Overcoming challenges to change by Sophie Washburne. (Donate here to help Chelsea add these titles to its library collection.)
Many books were sent home with kids during the pandemic and most were never brought back.
“New books are always incredible,” says Bordok. Getting new books into his library has never been so essential. Many books were sent home with kids during the pandemic and most were never brought back. The Shelf Help Grant will provide an opportunity to replenish the shelves and ensure that the titles in Chelsea’s library reflect the kids who visit there every day.
Bordok says the whole school community is excited about winning Shelf Help and he sees it as a great opportunity. “I’m looking forward to bringing the library and what we have to offer to the school’s attention.”
Books can be bought and donated directly from Chelsea High School’s wish list here or by visiting BBF’s donate page. Upon checking out, select “Make this a gift” and designate “Shelf Help” as the gift recipient in the appropriate box.