The CLARC: a Revamped Library Space for the Future

This past summer, the Jesuit administration created a new department combining learning support and library and testing staff, with the new department revamping, rebranding, and refurbishing the Clark Library into the Clark Library and Academic Resource Center. With a new physical design, and myriad new features, the CLARC promises new opportunities for students that help with academics and foster a friendly environment for students.

CLARC Director Colleen O’Mahony and Vice Principal Scott Powers spearheaded the development of the CLARC, hiring the new Head of Library Services, Dan Kelley. The three have focused on both combining and improving old programs, while adding new ones.

Dan Kelley starts his role as the new Head of Library services. Kelley focuses on assisting student research and traditional library services. (Nolan Petrin)

“The big picture thing for me is that we’re bringing all of the academic support for students into one place,” Kelley said. “So if you need help with testing accommodations, you can get that. Everything’s all here. We’ve configured the space to make sure that all the students’ needs are getting met.” 

Ms. O’Mahony has focused on student support and expanding the services that used to be provided in the Cardoner room into the CLARC.

“We have an exceptional librarian, exceptional opportunities for research and scholarship. [We’re] adding in things that we were already doing in the Cardoner room that were really successful, [like] our Learning Support Program, which already serves 200 students,” O’Mahony said.

The CLARC’s support is expanded beyond just helping students with learning, now including free access to school supplies and resources. These resources are designed to assist students by improving past resources provided in the old CLARC. 

“We’re bringing these resources to all other students, now. Things like access to printing all the time, free supplies like notecards, graph paper, and other things people might have. [We] also provide free tutoring every day, and we expanded our hours to be both before and after school,” said O’Mahony.

The CLARC now features new individual and group studying areas, alongside group workspaces with it’s conference rooms. (Nolan Petrin)

Jesuit has been providing a Learning Support Program for students for years. This program serves around 180 students from Jesuit, not including Edison, and helps students with identified learning differences, and students who need extra help.

“We serve between 200-250 students at any point during the school year. And we’ve gotten really good at supporting these students,” said O’Mahony. “What [Vice Principal] Mr. Powers and I realized is that we’re really good at supporting these 250 students, but there are a lot of other students at Jesuit who would also benefit from these supports.”

The CLARC is now trying to extend these support programs to reach the entire student body, including two new staff members; Learning Strategist Jeannie Hermann and CLARC Assistant Doreen Fay.

“So, how do we bring these supports to everyone? We know from research that students who access these supports in high school are more likely to be great self advocates in college, and know how to utilize these benefits in college. So these services are designed to get these students to know when they need help, and to know how to get access to services to get that help,” O’Mahony said.

With providing expanded learning support and a variety of new spaces with different resources, the CLARC will be an extensive resource to all Jesuit students this school year, and for years to come. The original Clark library was created in 1993, and was physically renovated in 2016. This year’s revamp was prompted by the desire to improve student support.

“We were looking at what other high schools and colleges were doing with their library spaces, with these spaces that are resources for students beyond just places to do research,” said Mr. Powers.

One of the new expansions the CLARC added is additional testing facilities. Chris Orazio is the school’s new testing coordinator.

Chris Orazio starts his new role as the Testing Coordinator in the CLARC. (Nolan Petrin)

“I handle things like college standardized testing, like the PSAT, ACT, and as well as getting accommodations for students dealing with the College Board and doing makeup and extended time for students,” said Orazio.

The CLARC has expanded support for testing– additional hours, new spaces, and better accessibility. 

“Our testing suite is open from Monday through Friday both before and after school, where they can go to the back corner to do their testing,” Orazio said.

Junior John Goodwin commented on the positive effects of the changes.

“I use the library more this year because I have a prep period, and also because I feel it has more to provide. The hours are a lot more welcoming to students that have difficult schedules that makes it more available to others,” Goodwin said.

Senior Charlotte Maloco studies in one of the CLARC’s conference rooms. (Nolan Petrin)

The expanded resources have drawn more students to the CLARC this year. Senior Emma Blevens also noted the changes.

“I think [the changes] are cool because it’s open more often, and very helpful. I’ll be going in more often, before it was changed, I never used to go into the library,” Blevens said.