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Sierra View Library Hosts A Calf For Christmas
santa cow
Sierra View librarian Colleen Verkaik removed her mask quickly for a photo op with her class visitor early last week. The baby calf was a special guest for sharing with the book Santa Cow. Photo Contributed

Things look a little different around the Sierra View Library for the 2020-21 school year. Even in a hybrid school schedule, the room remains vacant, the books untouched and story time now virtual.

For second year librarian Colleen Verkaik, however, while the environment may differ the goal remains the same: connect with students.

“I’m thankful I had a year of normal, before the chaos started,” the librarian said of her initial 2019-20 school year at Sierra View.

According to Verkaik the hybrid schedule is an alteration to the normal or having students come through the library each week. Now the student library time is virtual on their at home days.

“I am completely virtual,” she said.

“In talking with a couple other people, we gauge it to be about 50 percent of the kids that we’re connecting with,” she continued, noting the challenge of having students virtually join during their at home days.

Verkaik noted that some classes offer the students incentives for library time, which increases attendance in some areas.

“We’re just grateful for the kids who show up and hopefully we’re a bright spot in their day,” she said. “Trying to engage the kids and maybe connect them to a story they can share with me and their classmates.”

The second year Sierra View staffer shared as engagement is the focus and the mission, creativity must be part of the ultimate goal. Aiding with that is finding stories which are engaging and finding ways to bring the story to life.

Last week the teacher did more than that as she brought a visitor to the library in conjunction with the book Santa Cow.

“That led me to the Santa cow left a little gift in the library of us,” the librarian shared of how she set up the surprise for her students.

The guest she happened to secure came compliments of the Hoekstra family as she surprised her students with a days old baby calf. The calf was complete with Santa hat and a bow on its tail to replicate what they had seen in the book.

“We made those kids squeal with delight,” she said of the reveal, noting that the students were instructed to take their mics off of mute. “They just didn’t know how to react; there was a real live calf in the library.”

Verkaik shared while the students were live via Google Classroom she moved the screen and pointed the camera to the baby calf. In response the students squealed with surprise.

“Everything just fell into place. It was a beautiful moment for sure,” she shared.

The librarian offered her gratitude for Principal David Kindred for allowing her to bring the calf into the library, as well as the Hoekstra for helping her make the appearance.

“It was a fun way to connect these kids to Agriculture and the dairy industry and all the things that happen right around us,” she said of the educational aspect.