The April 1 event for Paxinosa Elementary students featured STEM activities, free books, and performances by Lafayette student groups
By Kelly Huth
Hundreds of books found their way to new homes during Lafayette College’s annual Literacy Day.
Held April 1 at Paxinosa Elementary School, the event welcomed Paxinosa students for a day of reading, learning, and fun. Organized by the America Reads team from Landis Community Center (Avery Besch ’23, Danielle Long ’23, Samantha Greenberg ’24, and Carolyn Eppolito ’23), the event featured activities, performances by Lafayette student groups, lunch, and books to take home.
Besch says the Lafayette community donated about 600 books for the event, and participating students were able to take home as many as they wanted.
“It’s really an amazing event because it’s entirely run by Lafayette students,” says Christine Cohen, coordinator of America Reads and America Counts.
Cohen says Lafayette students have organized Literacy Day for more than 20 years. Sometimes it’s hosted on campus; other years it’s hosted at one of the four America Reads sites—March Elementary School, Paxinosa Elementary School, Cheston Elementary School, and YMCA Forks Education Center—where Lafayette students tutor throughout the year.
“I look forward to tutoring and working with the kids each week, and I think we get just as much out of these activities as the kids do,” says Besch, a co-director of America Reads.
Besch and America Reads co-director Long organized Literacy Day by reaching out to Lafayette clubs, performance groups, and alums to plan a fun day for the kids. This year 50 volunteers from Lafayette participated in the event.
Pi Beta Phi worked on a STEM activity, challenging students to build structures out of marshmallows and dry spaghetti. The Lafayette Outdoors Society (LOST) set up a tent for kids to explore and made s’mores for the kids. Alpha Phi Omega volunteers let students design their own T-shirts. Miranda Wilcha ’16, community gardens and compost coordinator, Greater Easton Development Partnership, and Madeline Squarcia ’22, coordinator, Nurture Nature Center’s Buy Fresh Buy Local Greater Lehigh Valley, ran a station where students could make a nature journal.
“Each year we have a book that serves as our theme, and this year we focused on Ish by Peter H. Reynolds,” Long says. “We wanted to teach the kids that they can be creative without being perfect, and not to be afraid to try new things.”
After lunch, students were treated to performances by the Soulfege a cappella group, Lafayette College Dance Team, and Percussion Ensemble.
“We couldn’t do this without the help of community partners, especially Jeanine Stanilious, of Communities in Schools at Paxinosa Elementary, who helps us to book rooms and handles logistics for this event. And we’re appreciative of the Easton Area Neighborhood Center and Barnes and Noble who donated many books to our event, as well as the Lafayette community, specifically Sandy Kazinski ’85,” Cohen says.