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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter
As the bells rang for early dismissal, Westwood’s middle school students planned their afternoon downtown with friends. While some stopped at the local coffee shop for a Frappuccino and a snack, others headed straight to the Westwood Public Library to hang out with friends and get a head start on homework.
This year, though, the half-day library-goers could take a break from homework with the library’s new program, “Half Wednesday Hangtime,” which invites kids from kindergarten to eighth grade to hangout with Children’s Librarian, Hannah Gavalis, as they do relaxing crafts.
“They come to the library on the half-days anyway, so we figured why not offer something fun for them to do,” said Hannah, who led the children on their afternoon crafting session on October 11’s half-day.Students were welcome to design buttons by coloring on a circular piece of paper. Using the library’s button maker, donated by the Friends of the Westwood Library, Hannah transformed the pieces of paper into actual buttons for the kids to pin to their shirts and backpacks. While two seventh graders colored in one of the predesigned buttons, one girl created her own Harry Potter-inspired pin, while two seventh grade boys made a Pop-Tarts button and one with Lightning McQueen on it.
For a messier craft, kids were invited to make coffee filter monsters. Using spray bottles and multicolored dotters, the students colored the coffee filters and allowed them to dry before decorating them with googly eyes, construction paper, and markers to add horns, eyes, teeth, and anything else their monster might have.
Hannah also printed coloring sheets for students to decompress with as they chatted about what they liked and disliked about school and what kind of homework awaited them after the craft. “I didn’t really come here a lot during elementary school because it was really far away, but now I’m here a lot after school because the middle school is right there,” said one seventh grader, who now regularly attends library events.
The Children’s Library aims to do “Half Wednesday Hangtime” from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on the first half-day of every month, while Lizzy McGovern, the Head of the Children’s Library, will do the “Just for Fun Book Club” for sixth through eighth graders on the second half-day of each month.
With so many activities to keep them entertained and socializing with friends, for most students, spending half-days at the Westwood Library is a no-brainer.