This past fall, Pocahontas County became a bit dimmer following the loss of eight-year-old Braelynn Peteete. She was an active second grader at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School where her school spirit shone at athletic events and her zeal for knowledge was on display in the school library.
To honor her memory, parents James and Becky Peteete asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the GBEMS library to add new and to replace old books on the shelves.
Librarian Leah Shinaberry says it is heartwarming to see the outpouring of donations made in Peteete’s memory, and she has kept Peteete in mind when using the funds.
“I want to be very thoughtful and make sure that I’m building the collection carefully,” Shinaberry said. “I try to keep Braelynn’s tastes in mind whenever I buy books because she was all over the place. She didn’t just pick one type of book. There are some kids that are the shark kids or they want princess books. She liked everything.”
Some of the books at the library are rather worn out and Shinaberry said she will replace those, as well as buy new books that the school does not have.
“I’ve been trying to replace some of the books that are old and worn out – some of the Dr. Seuss books were falling apart,” she said. “Some of the holiday books were really old, so I’m trying to build up Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, and some of the holiday collections.”
The library supplies books for students in both the elementary and middle school, but Shinaberry said she is mostly using the special fund for the elementary side. She explained that English/language arts teacher Erin Baldwin has a library in her room for middle school students to use, in addition to the books that are available in the library.
To go along with the new books, Peteete’s family wanted to provide students a cozy and special place to sit and read. Near one of the windows in the library, there is now a new memorial book nook, complete with bean bag chairs and a rug where students can sit and read.
“I think Braelynn had a little nook in her room, so Becky thought that since we would be getting a nice collection of books, it would be nice to have a special place where the kids could read,” Shinaberry said. “She brought in a rug and the bean bag chairs. Then when students select their books, they can go and sit in the reading nook.
“We usually have to have them on a timer and they switch out because it’s a popular place to sit,” she added.
Although there was no set plan to make the Braelynn Peteete book fund a permanent fund, Shinaberry said she hopes the community will continue to donate in her memory.
“I think it would be a nice way to honor her memory, to not forget that she was part of the second grade class,” she said. “I think that would be a nice way to honor her and it would be a nice way to build the library collection, too.”
For Shinaberry, it is both exciting and hard to use the funds for new books.
“I do sometimes feel kind of guilty spending the money, because I feel like I complained about not having enough money and now that we have the money, it’s really bittersweet,” she said.
Ensuring Peteete’s memory will remain at GBEMS, all the books will have a notation on the inside showing that it was purchased by the Braelynn Peteete Memorial Fund. A plaque will be placed in the reading nook to honor her memory, as well.
To make a donation to the fund, contact Lori Wayne at GBEMS at 304-456-4865.
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