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RBMS media center benefits from local donations, grants

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Maggie Burt, left, and Brenda Ruiz work on the school’s iPads.

Red Bank Middle School is home to several budding journalists.

They do it all — interview teachers and students, take photos, brainstorm story ideas and research and investigate touchy school topics. The stories the newspaper staff uncovers are even posted on a news blog on the school’s website.

One eighth-grade staffer, Maggie Burt, was inspired to start writing her own blog through the experience.

The work the students do is possible with the help of three new iPads, paid for through a $1,500 donation from Hamilton County Commissioner Jim Fields. On the iPads, the students research, record interviews, take pictures, type their articles and utilize Google Drive.

“I’m really proud of them [the students],” said Donna Williams, RBMS’ library media specialist who heads up the school news staff. “They’ve done a great job.”

The news blog is just one of the initiatives Williams has brought to the newly built middle school’s media center, now located right in the center of the school.

She also recently applied for and received a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga to buy new print books.

Before receiving the grant, Williams said the average publish date of RBMS’ library books was 1982. With the grant money, she’s bought 353 new books, bringing the average up to 2008.

The new books have also increased the number of overall books checked out by 18 percent, said Williams.

“Especially for teenagers, there is a huge decline in reading for pleasure,” she said, adding that a decline in reading leads to low literacy levels and thus a lower quality of life. “It’s been wonderful to have those new books to draw those kids in and get them reading outside of school.”