Navarro College Bookstore mixes holidays with learning

By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

The bookstore at Navarro College celebrated this year’s Halloween with an Alice in Wonderland theme based around “We’re Mad About Education.”

Colorful illustrations line the hallway on the way to the bookstore. – Photo by Guy Chapman

Each year, the bookstore features a creative theme brought to life from the efforts of students collaborating together to lift morale and the spirit of the college’s campus.

In light of 2020 being a challenging year, the positivity was a needed message.

“What better year than now, especially for that,” said Terri Mitchell, Director of Navarro College Stores. “Even though it’s been a rough year, it’s still time for success. We can achieve a lot. We can learn a lot from what we’re experiencing this year.”

Mitchell coordinates the annual project, with students creating the decorations by hand, often using recycled materials such as cardboard boxes, tissue paper, and copy paper found around the bookstore.

“It was amazing seeing their collaborative efforts,” Mitchell said.

The creative projects are mean to be more than holiday fun, teaching students how to work together while making use of their individual qualities and viewpoints.

“When we do these group projects, it’s to teach my students skillsets,” Mitchell said. “We’ve had people that have come here and say ‘I’m too shy to do this,’ and we find this brings them out of their shells, and it helps them learn about each other better. It’s been a really fun thing.”

Students go through the looking glass to enter the bookstore. – Photo by Guy Chapman

Walking into the bookstore, visitors are greeted by an animated style door directly inspired by the 1951 animated film and concept designs from Mary Blair. The grinning Cheshire Cat greets students from a packing paper and cardboard crafted tree, and playing cards and mushrooms are found in almost every nook and cranny.

“Imagination is a wonderful thing,” Mitchell said.

With the plexiglass safety coverings providing distance between employees and students, the staff turned the barriers into colorful and eccentric windows to add a more inviting touch during transactions.

“That’s exactly how I want to remember 2020,” Mitchell laughed. “As a photo opportunity for how students showed off their skills during such a time.”

Mitchell is especially proud of students that come back to her after graduation, saying that they’ve applied these skills to their jobs and other areas of their lives. Mitchell said she gets excited hearing how well her former students continue to do.

“It means they got more out of it than just having fun,” she said. “That’s the main thing. It’s all about the students.”

While being part the theme for their Halloween display. The Alice in Wonderland decorations will stay up a few days past the holiday for students to enjoy a little longer.

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