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Millis Middle/High School library media specialist Patsy Divver wins grant to purchase graphic books

Patsy Divver, Millis Middle/High School library media specialist, was recently awarded the 2022 Judi Paradis Action Grant to purchase graphic and manga books for the school. Courtesy photo.

By Theresa Knapp
The Massachusetts School Library Association (MSLA) has named Patsy Divver, Library Media Specialist at Millis Middle/High School, as the recipient of the 2022 Judi Paradis Action Grant.  
The grant of $500 honors the memory of the late beloved Waltham Public Schools library teacher and colleague Judi Paradis who was a key leader in the school library community and the MSLA. As a champion of social justice, diversity, multiculturalism, and advocacy, her dedication, leadership, creativity, and enthusiasm inspired many school librarians.
In her goal of attracting more students to the pleasure of reading, Divver chose to increase the school library’s collection of books in graphic format, a format very popular with many students. The format  is especially appealing to students who are reluctant to choose a traditional book by encouraging students to “Grab a graphic and go!”
Divver, who was honored at the 2022 MSLA Annual Conference in March, says the award has great personal meaning to her. 
“Judi [Paradis] was both a colleague and a friend. Her advocacy for the school library was inspiring and remarkable; this grant exemplifies her desire for school libraries to take action in making a difference. Over my 25 years at Millis Public Schools and as an active member of the Massachusetts School Library Association, I have strived to make a difference for our students,” says Divver. 
“During this school year, when students are returning to in-person learning and beginning to revisit the school library, I wanted to offer them a space where they could reconnect with books. This focus on graphic novels was encouraged and supported by my library staff, colleagues and the students themselves. Graphic books offer visual appeal, and often connect with students who would not usually visit the library. Additionally, the books themselves are preferred by many students and offer a diverse option for reading,” says Divver, adding the books will be enjoyed by both middle and high school students. 
With this grant, Divver plans to purchase “approximately 40 books and two ‘seat cushions’ to add to the comfort of our space.” Book titles are being solicited from students, staff and library reviews, based on interest, appropriateness, and availability. 
Millis High School Principal Mark Awdycki says it is quite fitting that Divver received this award as she prepares to retire at the end of this school year.
“Patsy’s entire career in Millis has been about expanding offerings for our students, and doing whatever she can to bring the best possible library experiences to our students and staff,” says Awdycki. 
“Her energy, passion, creativity, willingness to help, and constant desire to improve both herself and our library collection/offerings, distinguish her from the field. Patsy is a true original and has given so much to not only our schools but to the entire Millis community…We’re all excited to see her honored at the 2022 MSLA Annual Conference.” 
The Massachusetts School Library Association works to ensure every school has a school library program that is fully integrated at all grade levels across the curriculum and has a significant and measurable impact on student achievement. For more information, consult the MSLA website,