Las Vegas Sun

December 20, 2014

Currently: 42° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Ellen’ returns to Whitney Elementary as kids check out ‘amazing’ new library

Image

Sam Morris

Target employees and school officials take part in a ribbon cutting outside Whitney Elementary School to unveil the school’s recently renovated library Wednesday, May 2, 2012. The library was closed Wednesday for the taping of a television show.

Ellen Show Taping at Whitney

The Ellen DeGeneres Show featured Whitney Elementary School Principal Sherrie Gahn as part of its 9th season premiere show airing Monday, Sept. 12, 2011. The Ellen Show donated $100,000 to the poor, East Las Vegas school with one of the highest populations of homeless students in the Clark County School District. Launch slideshow »

Watch

  • "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" featuring Whitney Elementary is expected to air at 3 p.m. todayon KLAS Channel 8.

Map of Whitney

Whitney

5005 Keenan Ave., Las Vegas

Neon pink, lime green and sequin-studded reading glasses decorated the faces of Whitney Elementary School students Wednesday as they stood amid a sea of red T-shirts worn by Target volunteers.

The students weren’t waiting in anticipation of a Justin Bieber concert but instead were excited for a $250,000 library makeover that promised up-to-date Apple computers, sleek iPads and 2,000 new books.

“I can give them food, I can give them clothes, but I can’t give them a new facility,” said Principal Sherrie Gahn, as she addressed the crowd at the library’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is quite a full-circle moment for me and a very emotional one.”

Gahn addressed a crowd minutes before a taping of the “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” that would reveal the new space to some of Whitney’s 610 students.

“It was amazing!” shouted one youth who walked off the closed set.

Whitney Elementary had been featured on the show earlier in the school year when the show made a $100,000 donation to the school that educates a high population of impoverished and homeless children.

“Literacy is really the key for all children to be what they want to be in this world,” Gahn said.

Whitney and the other schools were selected for the library makeover program sponsored by Target and the Heart of America Foundation, a national nonprofit group based in Washington that focuses on volunteerism and literacy.

The library makeover program partnership has set out to rejuvenate libraries in 32 schools in the United States this year. This year will total 150 schools since the partnership began in 2007.

Usually schools are selected based on a high number of students on the free- or reduced-lunch program, said Beverly Mason, assistant director of the Clark County School District’s School-Community Partnership Program.

The renovated library “is amazing. It’s bright, student friendly, full of books, technology and it makes everybody want to read,” said Pat Skorkowsky, associate superintendent for CCSD. “When you walk in every time you turn a different direction you see something that will take your breath away.”

The library features brightly colored chairs, beanbags and rows of glossy new books and computers.

“Target is embracing these families,” said Angie Halamandaris, president and co-founder of the Heart of America Foundation.

About 150 local Target employees helped students stuff canvas bags with canned food and fresh produce during the festivities surrounding library’s unveiling. Each student and his or her family were able to take home 22 pounds of food and seven new books.

Over the course of six months the same volunteers planned and set up the new library by stacking bookshelves, painting and installing carpet.

“When I went in and I saw this I wanted to start crying,” said school librarian Jennifer Sims. “These kids are so deserving of this.”

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 1 comment so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Principal Gahn is great for CCSD but more so for the kids in this community. She has added so much more then just teaching the kids. She is seeing that they have a better life.

    It has been great this last year seeing some major celebrities stepping up and helping Principal Gahn with her mission in life.

    Hope this rubs off on others and we continue to bring this valley back to a higher standard of life.