Community helps create new library at Charterhouse School in Edinburg

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EDINBURG, Va. (WHSV) — UMFS' Charterhouse School in Edinburg works with students who have barriers to accessing their education in public schools.

The school provides extra accommodations to help these students be successful, and has now opened a new library for the students to use!

"There's all kinds of books, and levels, and there's all types," said 12th grader Josh Hall.

The new library has over 1,000 books, some donated by the Green Valley Book Fair. One of the school's teachers reached out to the book fair, and employees there responded immediately.

"It was not just any books, they handpicked really good books for our kids," said George Merryman.

Local churches also got involved in the donations.

"They must have donated 1,000 books or more," said Merryman.

Merryman is a Special Education and English teacher for middle and high school students at the school. The new "library" is located in a multi-purpose room, and he built shelves for the books, including sliding doors to display certain grade level books at a time.

"We used to have to go all the way down to Edinburg's library and that was a big hassle for all of us," said 8th grade student Travis Ryan.

"I am glad that we actually have a library now where people can check out books, see what the books are, can read and have a great time," said 12th grade student Sam Seindle.

The Charterhouse School serves children from eight neighboring counties, with some students driving over an hour each day. The school serves students with autism and other neurological differences, emotional disabilities, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and other health impairments. The school is located in the former Edinburg Middle School.

The students at the school come from a variety of backgrounds.

"Maybe trauma has occurred in their lives, and they very often have not had access to things that other students commonly have access to," explained Principal Kimberli Collett.

This is Collett's first year at the school, and she said seeing the staff come together to build something new for the children made her proud.

The students who utilize the new library also learn responsibility.

"I still have kids that ask me, 'Can I take my books home with me?' And I'm like, 'Yeah take them home! They get really excited about that,'" said Merryman. "It's the trust."

Collett said the students watched the library come together over the course of about two months.

"The community around them coming together to support them helps them to feel that sense of belonging and that community," said Collett.

Serenity Star Phillips is eight years old and she loves reading books about princesses.

"My favorite part is when other people bring books here to have this library," said Phillips. "People get books from home and donate them here so we could have books to read."