By Kelly Huth

More than 30 students at Paxinosa Elementary School got a chance to spend their Saturday reading, learning, and having fun with Lafayette College students as part of the College’s annual Literacy Day. 

The April 6 event was organized by Lafayette’s America Reads group and has been a mainstay at the College for almost 20 years, says Chris Cohen, America Reads program coordinator. 

“One of the kids told us last year it was the best day of her life,” Cohen says of Literacy Day. “I’m always proud of my team—they work really hard to do this event and plan all year to make it work.”

The America Reads program is an initiative of the Landis Center for Community Engagement, and sends 40 Lafayette students to tutor at local elementary schools in the community five days  a week throughout the academic year. As the culmination of their year, the America Reads leadership team organizes a full day of activities for Literacy Day to inspire a love of reading in elementary students. 

The Literacy Day team included Samantha Greenberg ’24, team director and education coordinator; Marcus Alston ’24, activities coordinator; Julie Schramm ’24, performances coordinator; Paulina Arguello ’24, participants coordinator; Amelia Shaw ’24, marketing coordinator; Ricki Blaustein ’25, logistics/materials coordinator (fall); and Makenna Miller ’25, logistics/materials coordinator (spring).

In the months leading up to Literacy Day, Lafayette student volunteers collected 2,300 new and gently used books at the College to distribute to the elementary students who attended Literacy Day.

Greenberg, who joined America Reads as a tutor in fall 2021, says this year’s event focused on the theme of community—and participants were encouraged to be welcoming and inclusive in their everyday life.

To kickoff the event, Mayor Sal Panto Jr. read All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold. Then students rotated through a number of activities led by 15 Lafayette College volunteers and 20 student activity hosts.

Samantha Greenberg ’24, Literacy Day team director and education coordinator stands with Jeanine Stanilious, of Communities in Schools, at Paxinosa Elementary.

Samantha Greenberg ’24, Literacy Day team director and education coordinator, stands with Jeanine Stanilious, of Communities in Schools, at Paxinosa Elementary.

“They look at us as big brothers, sisters, and mentors,” Greenberg says. “And hopefully we can inspire them to love reading through this event.”

Volunteers from LaFarm taught students about the fruits and vegetables grown at the College farm. Members of Alpha Phi Omega community service fraternity made friendship bracelets and talked with students about what it means to be a good friend. Pi Phi helped students select books to take home with them. Members of the American Chemical Society showed students how to make their own Play-Doh and taught the science behind it. After lunch, students were treated to performances from Soulfege a cappella group, Salsa Club, Percussion Ensemble, and the Prestigious Pardettes dance group.

“I think this encompasses everything you’d want in an event—a true collaboration of the Lafayette and Easton communities,” Cohen says. “Our students, the participating children, volunteers, and community partners all walk away feeling impacted and uplifted.”

Cohen adds that the event is truly a partnership and wouldn’t be possible without the help of Jeanine Stanilious, of Communities in Schools, at Paxinosa Elementary.

“I think it’s really important for Lafayette students to engage with students in Easton schools—it shows us what it means to be active citizens,” Greenberg says. “We have a responsibility to our community and to be engaged in our community.”

Categorized in: Community, Community Impact, Community-Based Learning and Research, Featured News, Landis Center, News and Features, Students

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