School collecting books to honor teacher killed during Kalamazoo shooting spree

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Room 13 at Calhoun Community High School is typically used for study hall. The school’s director Tim Allard said students use it in between classes to catch-up on work. But soon it’ll be transformed into a library honoring one of their late and most beloved teachers.

“Tragically we lost a former staff member Mary Jo Nye during the shootings in Kalamazoo in February,” said Allard during an interview in the study hall room. “Mary Jo was instrumental in starting the library we have at Calhoun Community High School. But she had retired 5 or 6 years ago and we really haven’t added to the library since she left.”

Sixty-year-old Mary Jo Nye was one of six people shot and killed on February 20 during the shooting rampage. Only two people — eighth grader Abigail Kopf and young mother Tiana Carruthers — survived that night. Allard said Nye spent her life helping teenagers and adults fall in love with reading. So the school decided to complete the dream she started of creating a library for students.

“In an effort to honor her memory and her legacy here at CCHS, we put notice on our Facebook page that we were taking donations to build up the Mary Jo library,” said Allard. “We’re going to name the library after her and we’re going to add titles to what already exists.”

Allard said after spring break, the school board met about honoring Nye with a fundraiser and a book drive to build upon the makeshift library she created. It started three weeks ago and they’ve since raised $1,000 and collected 400 books from the community.

“It’s teenage genre we’re looking for,” said Allard. “Reading for our kids is something that they need to improve on. So we want to put titles in their hands that have interest for them and will keep them reading.”

Cash donations or checks made out to Calhoun Community High School are also accepted. He mentioned It’ll go to “beefing up” the library. The book drive and fundraiser were originally scheduled to end on April 29 but the staff chose to extend it through graduation on June 9. Once enough books are collected, the room will officially become Mary Jo Nye Library, complete with a plaque.

“It’ll be prominently displayed," said Allard. "Hopefully as new students enroll in our school over the years, we’ll continue to share her story and tell them that what they’re reading is because of her."

To donate to the library, visit their Facebook page here or stop by their office at Calhoun Community High School, 15 Arbor Street, Battle Creek 49015.

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