The Grade Blog

Sunday, Nov 03 2013 12:00 PM

Family donates to Norris Middle School library upgrade

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    By Courtesy Norris School District

    Artist rendering of the Norris Middle School Library

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    By urtesy Norris School District

    Artist rendering of the Norris Middle School Library

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    By urtesy Norris School District

    Artist rendering of the Norris Middle School Library

    click to expand click to collapse
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    By urtesy Norris School District

    Artist rendering of the Norris Middle School Library

    click to expand click to collapse
BY COURTENAY EDELHART Californian staff writer cedelhart@bakersfield.com

The Lake Family Foundation is donating an undisclosed amount of money to help pay for a new, larger library at Norris Middle School.

The foundation is run by the family that owns Rain for Rent, a local agricultural irrigation company.

Neither the foundation nor the school would disclose the size of the gift, but it was big enough to earn the family naming rights. The new library will be called the Mary Louise Robinson Library after the Lake family matriarch, who attended Norris schools from 1926 to 1935.

"It's going to be really nice, and the donation has made it where we can enhance it and open it a lot sooner," said Norris Union School District Superintendent Steven Shelton.

The library will be 6,000 square feet -- up from 3,800 square feet now -- and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015.

A bigger technology area will have enough room to accommodate more than 30 computers, compared with 16 now.

The facility also will have a professional research area and a project area stocked with supplies where children can work on reports and presentations.

Cynthia Lake, president of the Lake Family Foundation, said the library is a fitting tribute to her mother, who is 91 years old.

"My mom is a very avid reader who loves books, so we thought it would be a great idea and a great honor," Lake said.

The upgraded library is part of an overhaul of the whole campus that will be implemented in phases beginning this summer, most of it paid for with bond money.

Voters just barely passed Measure B in 2012. The bond measure gave the Rosedale-area Norris School District up to $149 million to revamp older schools and build new ones.

The current Norris Middle School campus was built in the 1950s, but it's been renovated several times since then.

Along with the library, the construction project includes two pods of classrooms with seven rooms, each; a prep kitchen; an outdoor eating area; an indoor dining area; and a theater.

Work on the project has already begun. Some '50s and '60s-era classrooms were demolished over the summer to make way for the upgrades.

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