Rotary, high school students bring good reads to Pratt Farm

Apr 13, 2023

MIDDLEBORO — Next time you head to Pratt Farm, don’t forget to bring a book to swap at the brand-new book box made by local high schoolers.

The box was installed on Thursday, April 13 by Middleboro High School students, the Middleboro Rotary Club, and the Conservation Commission.

As part of the Middleboro Innovation Lab program taught by innovation coordinator Tony Chiuppi, students built, painted, and installed the book box for public use at Pratt Farm.

In addition to woodworking projects including the book box, Chiuppi said that students in the program learn to use 3-D printers, a laser cutter, and other high-tech equipment to prepare them for the workforce.

“The students basically built it from scratch,” Chiuppi said. “They learned how to put shingles on it, make the doors, put the hinges where they needed to go, and they used the laser cutter to do the ‘M’ on the top.”

The book box’s one rule is that users have to give a book in order to take a book, according to Middleboro Rotary member J. Kevin “Quack” Quackenbush.

Luckily for Pratt Farm visitors, the box is already filled with books. Middleboro Rotary brought piles of them to jumpstart the exchange.

Quack said the concept of book exchanges took off during the pandemic. He pitched the book box idea to Chiuppi to keep the trend alive, and Park Commission agent Trisha Cassady said the commission was happy to approve the project at a town park.

“It proved so popular that we have five book boxes around town, and this will be the sixth,” Quack said. He added that Chiuppi and his students have two more boxes already built, waiting to be planted.

Quack pitched the book box idea to Chiuppi when they met while Quack toured the high school building early in the school year. 

“It’s been a match made in heaven,” Quack said of the partnership with the high school. “It’s really been great, and I see it continuing.”