Library becomes ‘den’ for studious Panthers

By HASKEL BURNS,

Through the years, Petal High School’s library has been a popular destination for students at the school, with its prominent placement between the building’s main two hallways making access easy for people throughout campus.

Officials expect it to become more so now, with its recent rebrand to “The Den” drawing students with coffee, fellowship and learning resources. The upgraded library was shown off to a small crowd during a recent meeting of the Petal School District Board of Trustees.

“Our library has really changed since a lot of us went to school,” PHS principal Rob Knight told board members at the meeting. “We wanted to make it more of a college feel, and we feel like we’ve done that.”

The makeover included a fresh coat of grey paint to the walls, new ceiling tiles, footrests and new benches for additional seating. New “The Den” logos also have been painted on the walls, featuring a silhouette of a panther – the school district’s mascot – flanked by a steaming cup of coffee.

“The kids and the students named it ‘The Den,’ kind of like a panther den,” Knight said. “That was a vote from a lot of the students.”

Racks that were previously in the center of the room were taken out to make room for the new additions, and all the library’s books can now be found along the back wall. Windows are spaced throughout the walls to allow vision into the hallways, accented by various framed pictures from the school’s digital media class.

The new space also features bar-style seating along the walls, with stool seats throughout, along with plenty of electrical outlets for laptops or other devices.

The “Panther Brew” setup, which is located at the entrance of the library, sells coffee, hot chocolate and tea for $2, along with various sweet treats.

“Students can make a donation and get a coffee in the morning, get hot chocolate or some snacks,” Knight said. “Our special needs kids work through that, and they learn life skills and it’s a great way for them to interact.

“We have music playing in the morning and throughout the day. We also have a work lab in the back that we converted from an office to a quiet space, where our kids can work.”

Knight said he and students have been very happy with the space, and officials look forward to making even more improvements to The Den.

“We are really proud of the work that’s gone into the library, and it’s taken a lot of people and a group effort to do that,” he said. “It’s a place where (students) can gather, a place where they can communicate and work on projects.

“So we’re really excited about it, and it’s kind of become the center of the school. There’s some other things we’ll be doing, but it’s a good start.”