Longfellow students have entered the “Made by Milk” contest with a multi-media Oak Park Public Library replica crafted from recycled milk cartons. Vote for our team to help them win up to $5,000! Voting ends May 9, and winners will be announced May 23.

It all began with 500 discarded milk cartons that were carefully gathered and washed. Ms. Hjalmarson’s 5th-grade class then worked with art teacher Jennifer Raia to assemble the recycled milk cartons to create a replica of the library. The kids used a post-tension construction model designed by architect Ken Floody through OPEF’s Architecture Adventure Program. The cartons were sewn together by the students using large plastic needles and rubber bands that are held in place by paperclips.

The “windows” of the library contain a multitude of stories — photos of students using the school media center, drawings of students’ favorite storybook characters, and quick read (QR) codes that bring viewers to a site where they can hear original fairy tales written and read by Longfellow students. Students in Ms. Ryan’s 3rd Grade class and Mr. Smith’s 5th Grade class contributed to the stories.

The “Made by Milk” contest challenges schools to re-purpose lunchroom milk cartons. The theme of this spring’s contest is “stories,” and the winners of the competition receive monetary prizes to be put toward improving the school environment in an eco-friendly way. If the Longfellow team wins the People’s Choice award, they plan to use the prize money to have an artist work with the kids to create a piece of art to decorate the school’s new reading garden.

The replica library will be exhibited in the real Main Branch Oak Park Public Library starting May 8.