What should you do when you want to ready a story but don’t have time to sit down and read an entire 400 page book? The answer is State High’s very own short story dispenser. While the concept seems new, the short story dispenser has been around the school for a longer time than many are aware of. It was first introduced in spring for three weeks during the 2019 school year and was located at the ground floor C Pod. However, this dispenser was only temporary, as it was rented from Penn State. Even though it was temporary, it was a hit with students who got to enjoy taking a break to enjoy a short story.
Intrigued by the concept and the popularity of the dispenser, My Mental Health Matters, a club at State High dedicated to spreading awareness and breaking the stigma around mental health, teamed up with librarian Lois Scarangella to bring it back- this time permanently.
The My Mental Health Matters Club, founded in 2016, has found tremendous success in the past few years and is overseen by counselor Suzanne Lyke. The club was started to destigmatize and create conversation around the topic of mental health, but has recently grown into so much more. It is also a safe place for students and a place for students to have a voice. Students create activities in school and out of school to promote wellness, positivity, and kindness. Some recent events include the Green-Out spirit day, setting up the wellness center, and the Out of the Darkness Walk. Additionally, the club is very involved in participating in community service. Currently, they are planning to give out heart-shaped lollipops and stickers to celebrate everyone on Valentine’s Day.
Even though the short story dispenser was brought to State High recently, students in the club have been interested in bringing it here for a long time. “About three years ago, some of the club students saw one of the dispensers on loan at Schlow Library, which is one of the five machines that Penn State owns,” Lyke said. “These machines come from Paris, so it’s kind of a big deal to us. The club thought it would be really great to have one here because students can take a mindful moment to read a short story.”
Another great benefit to the dispenser is that it is environmentally friendly. The paper is recycled for the stories, and the ink is made out of renewable resources. “The stories are small, and the machine runs on special ink and recycled paper, so it doesn’t produce a lot of waste,” Scarangella said. “It also runs on the internet, so anywhere it is plugged in can print a short story, which is nice if we ever want to move the machine.”
The short story dispenser is now located in the library and continues to print out stories that range in length of reading time: one minute, three minutes, and five minutes. There are endless combinations of stories to read. From inspirational poetry, to exciting narratives, the story possibilities are endless. Additionally, certain stories will be themed around certain events and holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, which will create even more options to read.
“We hope the machine will help to give students a new outlook about reading, and also give them the opportunity to have a break and read that small story,” Scarangella said.
Stop in the library to print your own short story anytime they are open.